Which is better a manual or electric toothbrush?

What is better manual or electric toothbrushes

The first toothbrush was probably the human index finger. It is believed that around 5000 BC the ancient Egyptians used “tooth powder” made from the ash of ox hooves, myrrh, eggshell and pumice and rubbed it on their teeth with their fingers. Around 3000 BC the Babylonians used chewing sticks, basically a twig with frayed ends. The first bristle toothbrush was used around 600 AD by the Chinese. It was made from bamboo or bone and hog bristles. What we would think of as a modern toothbrush with nylon bristles was first produced in the late 1930’s and then not much changed until the birth of the electric toothbrush in the 1990’s.

At Ian Gurner Dental Care we provide either manual toothbrushes or electric toothbrush heads to patients depending on what they use at home. We find that the percentage of patients using rechargeable electric toothbrushes is much higher than those using manual. Is this a fad or does a rechargeable electric toothbrush do a better job?

Manual Toothbrushes


  • Cost and availability: Manual toothbrushes are inexpensive and widely available at supermarkets and chemists.
  • Variety: There is an endless variety of styles, colours and brands.
  • Easy to travel with: Manual toothbrushes are compact and don’t need a special case to travel with. They can simply be placed in a toiletries bag.
  • Safer for young kids: Although it is best for you to brush young children’s teeth, they need to learn how to do it themselves and the best way to do that is to try for themselves. Dropping and breaking a rechargeable electric toothbrush can be expensive to replace. Letting a young child learn with a manual toothbrush is a good option but remember a child needs a parent to brush their teeth at least once each day until the age of 6.


  • More work
  • No timer: You should brush your teeth for approximately two minutes so you will have to watch the clock or guess with a manual toothbrush.

Rechargeable Electric Toothbrushes


  • Very easy to use: The toothbrush does the work. All you need to do is hold it at a 45° angle to the surface of the teeth, press and move it over your teeth slowly.
  • Built in timer: Electric toothbrushes have built in timers so that you know exactly how long to brush you teeth.
  • Less pressure on teeth and gums: Some rechargeable electric toothbrushes warn you when you are applying to much pressure to the teeth and gums.
  • Less work and more fun for kids: Most kids hate brushing their teeth. A rechargeable electric toothbrush makes it easier and the vibration and buzzing noise is fun. The built in timer also makes it much easier.
  • Better results: Many studies have shown that rechargeable electric toothbrushes do a much better job of removing plaque and gingivitis.


  • Cost: They are more expensive to buy than a manual toothbrush. After the initial cost replacement brush heads are a similar price to manual toothbrushes.
  • It must be charged: You must remember to charge a rechargeable electric toothbrush.
  • Breakable: If dropped that could be the end of your toothbrush.
  • Bulky to travel with: Rechargeable electric toothbrushes take up more room in your luggage. They often have hard plastic cases to protect them and a charger.

The type of toothbrush you use is a personal choice. Our professional opinion is that certain types of rechargeable electric toothbrushes will produce better results than a manual toothbrush (see link to study at the bottom of this blog article) but what is most important is not what type of toothbrush you use but that you brush your teeth correctly. It is recommended that you brush twice a day for two minutes and floss once a day prior to brushing. Following this simple advice will dramatically reduce the cost of your dental care by reducing plaque in critical areas which in turn will reduce decay and gum disease risks.

Our dentists and dental hygienists are here to help. If you are need further advice please call us on (03) 6231 3645 to make an appointment.



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Ian Gurner Dental Dentists