Manual Vs. Electric Toothbrush: Which Is Better?

Happy young multi racial man brushing his teeth

You’ve seen the commercials for those sleek and modern electric toothbrushes. You may even have a friend or two who swears by them. But, is an electric toothbrush really that much better than a traditional manual toothbrush?

We compared the merits of both the manual and the electric toothbrush based on the following factors: cost, cleaning effectiveness, and ease of use. Here’s how each of them stacked up.

Electric Toothbrush


Perhaps the biggest factor that keeps many people from switching to an electric toothbrush is cost. The cost of an electric toothbrush can be anywhere from $25 to over $100, depending on the model and included features. One key factor to note is that electric toothbrushes tend to need replacing less often than manual toothbrushes, so the overall difference in cost may not be as significant as it seems. 

Cleaning Effectiveness

Electric toothbrush manufacturers claim that their products will clean teeth with less effort and better results. And in fact, several studies have shown that electric toothbrushes actually do a better job than manual toothbrushes of removing plaque.

Ease / Satisfaction of Use

Electric toothbrushes rank pretty high for ease of use – no more scrubbing your teeth, just place the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle and let it do all the work. This can be especially beneficial for people with joint problems or a disability that limits affects their ability to use a manual brush.

Many children may also find it easier and more fun to brush their teeth with an electric toothbrush. If you have a hard time getting kids to brush with a regular toothbrush, an electric toothbrush can make dental care a much more enjoyable chore.

The built-in timer that comes with many electric toothbrushes takes the guesswork out of knowing how long to brush. The toothbrush simply shuts off once two minutes are up.

On the downside, electric toothbrushes require either regular charging or battery replacement – factors which make it a little less convenient. Electric toothbrushes are not as easy to travel with as manual toothbrushes. Not only do they take up more space on the bathroom counter and on the go, they can also break easily if dropped.

Manual Toothbrush


Manual toothbrushes are much cheaper than electric – you may even get them for free whenever you visit your dentist. Even though manual toothbrushes should be replaced about every three months, the replacement cost is quite low. 

Cleaning Effectiveness

Though there have been studies showing that electric toothbrushes remove more plaque than manual toothbrushes, it is still possible to thoroughly clean teeth with a manual brush using the proper brushing technique. So, while an electric toothbrush may be more effective at cleaning, your oral health won’t suffer if you use a manual toothbrush properly and regularly.

Ease / Satisfaction of Use

Manual toothbrushes offer lots of options for different needs. You can choose from an array of toothbrush styles, bristles, head sizes and colors. Manual brushes are also much easier to travel with. All you need is a toothbrush case – no need to worry about batteries or charging outlets.

The major downside with manual toothbrushes is that they require more effort to use. You also have to guess at how long you’ve been brushing or use a timer or clock to tell if you’ve brushed your teeth long enough.

Still not sure if a manual toothbrush is for you or if electric is more your speed? Be sure to discuss talk over your options with one of our staff when you make your next appointment.

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