You just saw the dentist and now you’re contemplating switching toothbrushes; so you find yourself at the pharmacy. So many options, so many brands, so many colors. Which is best? Manual? Electric? Electric has to be better, right? Actually, Consumer Reports has said in the past, “electric and manual toothbrushes are equally effective as long as you brush teeth thoroughly for 2 minutes, twice a day.” But a more recent report finds Consumer Reports changing their tune, “analysis of 56 studies published in 2014 by the international evidence-based research organization Cochrane found that electric models may have a slight edge”.
What is this slight edge? What is the difference? Statistically speaking, “compared with manual toothbrushes, electrics reduced dental plaque 21 percent more, and 11 percent more after three months of use”. What brushes were involved in these “studies”? The Cochrane researchers looked into heavily, the rotating and oscillating electric toothbrushes. They also examined “sonic toothbrushes” that featured vibrating brush heads but didn’t rotate. Sadly, this research did not conclude the best kind of brush, rather benefits and risks.
According to Consumer Reports dental adviser Jay W. Friedman, D.D.S., M.P.H., if you don’t currently have gingivitis, “it really doesn’t matter which brush you use.” What would you know, a dollar store brush does the same work as a $40 rotating head brush. Well, what about plaque? He commented, “we really don’t know that it matters if a little more or less plaque is removed,” he says. An electric toothbrush may help, however, if you have arthritis or a dexterity problem that makes thorough brushing difficult,” Friedman notes.
So, it all comes down to the consumer’s choice. Whichever toothbrush you decide to use, don’t get carried away with brushing. “Excessive brushing with manual or electric has its risks,” Friedman says. “Too much pressure and too frequent brushing can abrade enamel, or the root if the gum has receded.” This abrasion, he says, “can cause teeth to become hypersensitive to hot and/or cold”. Like with everything, follow directions to keep those teeth happy and healthy.