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Should I Use a Manual Toothbrush or Electric Toothbrush?

When people think of a toothbrush they usually think of the old-fashioned manual kind. The traditional toothbrush was invented in the late 1930’s and it wasn’t until the 1990’s that the technology we used to clean our teeth really changed. The 1990’s saw the invention of the electric toothbrush, offering a popular alternative that was viewed as the toothbrush of the future. So which one is better for you? Let’s compare the pros and cons of each.

Manual Toothbrush


  • Thoroughly cleans teeth, provided you employ a proper brushing technique. Brushing only takes 2 minutes, and a manual toothbrush is more than up to the task.
  • Variation to suit individual needs. The variety of head sizes, bristle softness, and head styles make it easy to find the perfect toothbrush to suit your needs. Manual toothbrushes are also available in a variety of colours and patterns, a feature that can be used to encourage children to brush regularly.
  • Travels well. All you need is a toothbrush case and you are ready to go, no need to worry about batteries or charging outlets.
  • More environmentally friendly. With no batteries or electricity required you can reduce your carbon footprint by using a manual toothbrush.
  • Inexpensive, and sometimes even free. Manual toothbrushes are much less expensive than electric ones. Most dentist offices also give you a free toothbrush with each visit, reducing your toothbrush replacement costs.


  • More work. Though brushing your teeth hardly seems like hard work it can be difficult or even painful for individuals with arthritis or hand, arm or shoulder problems.
  • No built in timer. With a manual toothbrush you are responsible for ensuring you brush for the entire 2 minutes. If you are concerned about skimping on time you can use the timer on your smartphone or a kitchen timer, but you have to remember to have it on hand and to set it each time you brush.

Electric Toothbrush


  • Easy to use. Powered toothbrushes are incredibly easy to use. Simply turn the brush on and place it at a 45 degree angle against your teeth. The toothbrush does all the work, making this a good choice for individuals with arthritis or hand, arm or shoulder problems who find brushing with a manual toothbrush difficult or painful.
  • Less work, and better results. Studies have shown that electric toothbrushes do a better job than manual toothbrushes, removing more plaque and reducing instances of gingivitis.
  • Children love them. Children find electric toothbrushes novel and exciting, making them more willing to brush regularly. The built in timer also helps children remember to brush for the full 2 minutes.
  • Built in timer. Instead of guessing how long you have been brushing for, or remembering to use a kitchen timer or the timer on your phone, electric toothbrushes have timers built in. The brush turns off 2 minutes after you turn it on, letting you know that you have brushed long enough.


  • You have to deal with batteries or charging cables. If your batteries die, or you forget to charge your toothbrush, you are left with a clunky manual toothbrush anyways.
  • Cost. Electric toothbrushes are significantly more expensive than manual ones, and you still have to replace the brush portion every 3 months or once they wear out.
  • Harder to travel with. Traveling with an electric toothbrush can be a hassle. They take up more space than manual brushes, and you need to make sure you remember your charger or extra batteries. They are particularly cumbersome on long haul flights, where you will have to try and set up your toothbrush in the tiny airplane bathroom (if there is even an outlet available).
  • Less durable. Manual toothbrushes are hard to accidentally break. They are sturdy and have no moving parts. Electric toothbrushes on the other hand can be rendered useless if they are dropped, so you need to be more careful when you use them.

Though studies have shown that electric toothbrushes are more efficient at fighting plaque and gingivitis your choice really comes down to which you prefer and are most comfortable using. After all, the best type of toothbrush is the one you will use often. Both are good choices for taking care of your teeth, so if your budget can’t stretch to accommodate an electric toothbrush don’t worry. If you are really unsure which is most for you speak to your dentist the next time you come in for a checkup and see what they recommend based on your individual needs.

For more information, or to book an appointment, contact the Marlborough Dental Centre today at 403.248.2066 and visit

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