The Electric Toothbrush vs. Manual Debate

Every now and then, in the halls of both of our St. Charles and Creve Coeur offices, we hear the echoes of an argument that we are so used to hearing it’s created its own beaten path in our hallways and in our minds.

In our offices, the twist on the debate comes in the form of what a child should be using to clean their teeth. So, in the debate of an electric toothbrush vs. manual, which one is better for your child? Let’s dive in.

The Electric Toothbrush vs. Manual Debate - Dentistry for Children & Adolescents

Fun fact: did you know the modern toothbrush came about at the turn of the 16th century when a Chinese emperor put hog bristles through a bone handle to help clean his teeth? It’s true!

The Fun Factor

Electric toothbrushes benefits from very nearly falling into the category of a fun toy for a child to play with as opposed to a device with more in common with a hair brush. Some even say it “tickles” their teeth, further

If your child is more enthusiastic about brushing their teeth when they have an electric model, then by all means let them go wild. They also benefit from being easier for kids to use as the toothbrush does a majority of the scrubbing so long as it is held at a proper angle (around 45 degrees).

Some advanced models even include a built-in timer so you know exactly how long they’ve been brushing. Remember, two minutes of vigorous brushing is optimal!

With all that said, electric toothbrushes tend to cost much more than their manual counterparts. They are also much more fragile, by comparison to manuals. Plus, if they aren’t charged they lose all the benefits mentioned above. And electric models tend to come equipped with heads that do not lend themselves easily to the linear motion of manual brushing.

Manual for All Modes

Manual toothbrushes are your simple, no-hassle argument against the complexity of electric models.

With proper technique, a manual toothbrush can be just as effective at cleaning teeth as an electric. With manuals, you also have more options to choose from in the form of softer bristles, head size, etc. They are easier to travel with comparatively, do not require charging or batteries, and are inexpensive.

Proper technique for children can be tricky, and without the timer of an electric they can leave a lot to be desired in their ability to clean their teeth effectively.

The Verdict?

Honestly, the verdict from us depends largely on your child. If they are more excited about keeping their teeth clean with an electric toothbrush, then let them use one. The cost of an electric model versus the cost of filled cavities and other various dental issues is miniscule.

Alternatively, if your child does well with a manual brush then you shouldn’t force them to use an electric model for no reason. Just ensure they are using proper technique and are brushing long enough to do a thorough job.