Manual vs Power Toothbrushes
Manual vs Power Toothbrushes

Is there really a difference?

Deciding what type of toothbrush to purchase isn’t the most important decision on everybody’s minds these days. However, the toothbrush is the most essential weapon against bacterial plaque and its damaging consequences on a person’s oral health. With so many varieties of toothbrushes to choose from: hard or soft, manual or powered; one can be left feeling perplexed and frustrated. In an attempt to put an end to the confusion, the following is an explanation of the benefits and limitations of manual and powered toothbrushes.

Manual toothbrushes, as we know them, have been around since the late 1930’s.1 It was not until World War II that Americans began to pay attention to their oral hygiene when the soldiers were regulated for their hygiene habits. This is about the time nylon bristles were brought onto the scene by DuPont de Nemours.1 The manual toothbrush is a great tool for removing plaque biofilm (the bacterial slime coat) on teeth; still it is solely dependent on the technique of the operator. This means the manual toothbrush is only as effective as the user’s skills. Thus, the power toothbrush was born to fix this dilemma.

In 1960, the first power toothbrush was introduced in America and has been increasing in popularity ever since. With a power toothbrush, the work is done for you! All the user needs to do is place the brush on the teeth and go around the whole mouth. Voila! Clean teeth. Once a person has become accustomed to the difference of a power toothbrush, there is usually no going back to a manual. The technology of a power toothbrush, such as the Oral-B Smart Series, includes an oscillating-rotating head (i.e. the head rotates side to side and pulsates back and forth) and numerous cleaning modes to meet the needs of all users. According to an independent study, the power toothbrush with the oscillating technology removed more plaque and reduced gingivitis more effectively than the manual toothbrush.2

So, why not purchase the power toothbrush and forget the manual toothbrush altogether? The power toothbrush does have a few considerations for the purchaser. It does tend to be more expensive when compared to the cost of a manual. But, watch out! The theory stating “the more expensive it is, the better it will be” is not always true. The research compellingly supports the power toothbrush with the oscillating technology, so do the research to ensure your purchase has this technology. In addition, power toothbrushes take up more space on your vanity and need an outlet for charging. Despite the ongoing debate over which is better, just remember the very best toothbrush to buy is the one you are going to use!

-Aimee and Jennifer

  1. "Who Invented the Toothbrush and When was it?" at the Library of Congress, Everyday Mysteries
  2. Types of Toothbrushes: Choose the Right Brush at
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