Healthy Living

Manual or electric?

Which toothbrush scrubs up best?

Written by Medibank
Close up portrait of girl brushing teeth with mother in bathroom

We take a look at both electric and manual toothbrushes, the pros and cons, and which one may be better for you.

But first, why should we brush?

Brushing your teeth is the simplest way to prevent bacteria and plaque build-up in the mouth. Plaque is particularly nasty as it’s a sugar-hungry bacteria than can eat through teeth enamel and cause decay. A build of plaque can also lead to gum disease.

And even if you’re brushing and flossing regularly, it’s still a good idea to have a professional check-up and clean every six months.

Now let’s get hands on with the manual toothbrush

The humble toothbrush has been around for a long time, going back to 3,000 BC when our ancestors chewed the frayed end of sticks to keep their teeth in good health. Toothbrushes have come a long way since then, but the general principles behind the toothbrush remain the same. So what does the manual toothbrush have going for it?

  • Easier to handle & control: With nothing between you and the handle, you can get a better
    sense of what your manual toothbrush is doing and how much pressure you’re applying.
  • More choices & brush options: Not just head size, but hardness of the bristles as well, along
    with handle shapes. Experts suggest sticking to soft bristles to prevent damage to your gums*.
  • No power, no problem: No need for batteries, nor a power point to recharge. Used properly,
    a manual toothbrush does the job with no fuss.

A plug for the electric toothbrush

First invented in 1954, the electric toothbrush relies on very fast moving bristles to do the work for you. Improvements in battery technology means greater convenience and less hassle. So what are some of the positives of going electric?

  • Thorough clean with less effort: Many electric toothbrushes on the market can deliver over
    30,000 movements per minute. With that much brushing, electric toothbrushes rely less on
    proper technique to get a decent clean.
  • Great for people with limited motion: If you suffer from arthritis or injuries that make brushing difficult, an electric toothbrush is a great way to get into those nooks and crannies.
  • Kids dig it: Having that ‘buzz’ on tap makes brushing time less of a chore. Some even feature
    dazzling lights and play musical tunes!

So the verdict is….

According to Medibank Dental Adviser, Sonia Sumer you can get a great clean with a manual or electric toothbrush.

“Electric toothbrushes are generally easier to use, particularly for children and people with hand injuries or disabilities. However, manual toothbrushes can be just as effective if used well. If using a manual toothbrush, remember to use a soft brush and apply only gentle pressure,” she said.

Which brings us to…

A quick brush-up on brushing technique

This quick refresher course for healthy teeth and gums applies for both manual and electric toothbrushes.

  • Tilt the brush at a 45 degree angle from where the gum meets the teeth, to ensure that plaque
    is being swept away from the gum.
  • Take a systematic approach to brushing. Start and finish at the same point, cleaning 2-3 teeth
    at a time instead of randomly brushing. This will ensure that you don’t miss a spot.
  • Use a soft bristle brush instead of a hard or medium bristle brush.
  • Brush twice a day. After breakfast and before bed.
  • Replace your brush or brush-head every three months.
  • Always floss. It’s even more important than brushing to prevent gum disease.
  • Always clean your tongue from back to front to reduce oral bacteria which can contribute to
    plaque and bad breath.

Read more: 7 signs you need to see a dentist

Written by Medibank

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