Do electric toothbrushes work better?

Clean more! Floss more! Rinse more! We’ve all heard these words spoken by our dentists and hygienists plenty of times before. And with so many things in our busy lives, you’re likely looking for the quickest way to do this is, right? Well you’ve probably heard of and been recommended to use an electric toothbrush before, whether by your dentist, a friend or family member.

You might even already use one yourself. But does the electric toothbrush really save you time and effort? And does it clean your teeth better than a regular toothbrush? Here are the facts, plain and simple for you.

What are the benefits of an electric toothbrush?

There are of course some obvious benefits to using an electric toothbrush. The circular motion that the brush of the tooth makes mimics the circular motion your dentist has probably shown you to use before. With the toothbrush doing the circular motion, your wrist gets a break, saving you (a small amount!) of energy.

The circular motion is the best way to clean off difficult-to-remove plaque and bacteria caught on and between your teeth because it loosens the bacteria from all sides, rather than left and right if you’re brushing horizontally only. Due to the small size of the toothbrush head, the circular motions it makes are much smaller than the ones you probably make with a manual toothbrush, which also makes it potentially easier to cover more of the tooth surface more thoroughly.

Can’t I do that with a manual toothbrush?

Well actually yes you can. An electric toothbrush might save you some wrist energy, but aside from that, there really are no extraordinary benefits to using one over a manual toothbrush.

Regardless of the type of toothbrush you use, the most important thing is to brush for long enough. We, along with The Australian Dental Association, recommend brushing for at least two minutes, twice daily. Some electric toothbrushes actually can help with this as they come fitted with a timer that tells you when to move sections, and beep when you’ve been cleaning for long enough. Using a good brushing technique, and brushing for long enough, you should be able to thoroughly clean your teeth, with either a manual or electric toothbrush.

What is good brushing?

Cleaning your teeth properly is all in the technique, regularity and length of time. You should brush your teeth both morning and night after eating, for at least two minutes at a time.

Short, gentle circular strokes are best, concentrating on each section to clean thoroughly before moving along the teeth. It’s important to focus extra time and attention on brushing the gumline and gums, the difficult-to-reach teeth at the back of your mouth, and areas around any fillings, crowns or dental implants. Don’t forget to also give your tongue a good scrub when brushing your teeth, as bacteria tends to build up here, and is often the cause of bad breath.

Don’t forget to floss!

Clean teeth aren’t achieved only by brushing. Anywhere where food can become lodged needs to be cleaned properly, usually by flossing. You should floss your teeth each night before brushing, being sure to floss between teeth, right up to the gums, and around the back of your teeth at the rear of your mouth.

Flossing dislodges any food caught, making it easier to clean the plaque and bacteria in and around your teeth and gums. Despite trying, this is something your electric toothbrush definitely can’t do for you!

All in all, electric toothbrushes can save you some energy and help ensure you brush for long enough, but they don’t necessarily clean your teeth any better than a manual toothbrush. So long as you have a quality toothbrush with strong, but flexible bristles, use the correct technique and brush regularly, your teeth should be kept clean and healthy.

About the author

Ben Wilcox is a dental expert from Shore Dental.

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