Electric Vs. Manual Toothbrush for Gum Health

As electric toothbrushes become increasingly popular, it’s worth considering the Electric Vs. Manual Toothbrush debate. Have you ever wondered if an electric toothbrush is better for you? 
Or maybe you’re a dedicated manual-toothbrush user wondering whether you should make the switch. Either way, we’re here to provide you with the facts to help you make the best decision for your gums.

Is an Electric Toothbrush Better for Receding Gums?

One major cause of receding gums is over-brushing, or brushing the teeth and gums too aggressively. Applying too much pressure while brushing can wear down the enamel of the teeth. Because the enamel is the primary protective layer of the teeth, as it wears down, the gums begin to recede and become increasingly vulnerable.
When people brush with an electric toothbrush, they often tend to brush harder and apply more force than they would with a manual toothbrush. For this reason, a manual toothbrush might be the better option for people who naturally brush with more force. 
Although, some electric toothbrush products feature a light that turns on when too much pressure is being applied to the teeth. These electric toothbrush options might be helpful for people who need to lighten the pressure. 

Electric Toothbrush Advantages

  • More convenient for people with dexterity challenges (e.g. people with braces or other orthodontic appliances)
  • Many options feature built-in timers, pressure sensors, various modes for different cleaning approaches and reminders to change the brush head
  • Bristles use a range of motions (side-to-side and back-and-forth oscillation)
  • Deliver an average of 40,000 to 60,000 brush movements per minute

Electric Toothbrush Disadvantages

  • May create the tendency to apply more pressure when brushing, leading to gum recession
  • Considerably more expensive than manual toothbrushes and require replacement brush heads
  • Require charging and careful handling to prevent damage to the battery

Manual Toothbrush Advantages

  • Affordable and easily accessible to buy or replace at convenience stores
  • Easy to maintain without the need to charge or replace batteries
  • Convenient for traveling
  • Can choose from a range of bristles (soft, medium, hard)

Manual Toothbrush Disadvantages

  • Speed and range of motion are manual, not automatic 
  • May have to replace toothbrush more often than electric brush heads
  • No choice of modes for deeper cleaning
  • No timer feature to indicate when your teeth are thoroughly brushed
  • Deliver an average of 300 to 600 brush movements per minute

Electric Vs. Manual Toothbrush Studies

  • In a study conducted by the Department of Periodontology and Implantology, 30 subjects were given Oral B® manual toothbrushes and another group of 30 subjects was given Oral B® powered toothbrushes. Subjects were instructed to brush their teeth twice a day for 2 minutes at a time. In conclusion, the powered toothbrush proved more effective at removing supragingival plaque and improving gingival health than the manual toothbrush. 
  • In a study published in 2019 by BMC Oral Health, 55 subjects were given electric toothbrushes, while 60 subjects were given manual toothbrushes. Subjects were asked to clean their teeth to the best of their abilities for six months. In conclusion, there was no difference in the amount of plaque and the level of oral hygiene between manual brushing and electric brushing.

Is an Electric or Manual Toothbrush Better for Gums?

So, what’s the verdict? Is it smarter to stick to your manual toothbrush? Or should you consider investing in an electric toothbrush?
The fact of the matter is: you know your brushing habits better than anyone else. As long as you brush your teeth and gums thoroughly and floss regularly, your choice of toothbrush might not make too big of a difference on your gum health. 
If you tend to apply too much pressure on your teeth, it might be better to opt for a soft-bristle manual toothbrush. If you can’t seem to brush your teeth for long enough each time, an electric toothbrush with a built-in timer might be more beneficial for you.
Regardless of the toothbrush you choose, it’s important that you brush properly.
To brush your teeth for optimal oral health:
  • Brush twice a day
  • Use your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle
  • Brush the inner and outer surfaces of your teeth
  • Use circular motions, up-and-down motions, and back-and-forth motions
  • Brush for 2 minutes each time
While many studies have shown electric toothbrushes to be more effective at removing plaque than manual toothbrushes, many have also shown manual and electric toothbrushes to be equally effective at maintaining optimal gum and dental health. It’s the cleaning habits you create with your toothbrush that really matter. 
Choose from a list of manual toothbrushes or powered toothbrushes with the ADA Seal of Acceptance to ensure that your toothbrush is safe and effective at removing plaque and reducing gingivitis. 
If you’re due for periodontal maintenance, you’re experiencing pain or sensitivity in your gums, or you’re ready to make your next appointment with us, reach out to us today!
As an affordable periodontist in New Port Richey and Tampa, we provide periodontal treatment, periodontal regeneration surgery, periodontal pocket reduction surgery and more.


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