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Is an electric or manual toothbrush better for cleaning my teeth?

Posted on February 01,2022

Brush up on your at-home oral hygiene with our guide

You probably already know that for the best oral health, it’s important to floss your teeth every day, and to brush your teeth properly morning and night. Proper brushing technique helps to remove bacteria and prevent the build-up of plaque, which can cause gum disease and tooth decay.

But what type of toothbrush is best?

Let’s take a look at the benefits of choosing either an electric toothbrush or a manual toothbrush.

The pros and cons of manual toothbrushes

If you’re not averse to a little “manual labour” each morning and night, a non-electric toothbrush can certainly work well.

Even though you’ll see ‘medium’ and even ‘hard’ manual toothbrushes available in shops, we don’t recommend using them. That’s because medium and hard toothbrushes won’t clean your teeth and gums any better than a soft brush – and they can actually wear down your tooth enamel and even damage your gums over time.


And while we’re talking about tooth damage, remember not to scrub your teeth too hard while you’re brushing. Instead, imagine you’re massaging your teeth gently with your soft toothbrush.

Of course, manual toothbrushes don’t come with in-built timers. Make sure you take your time while brushing, either by setting a 2 minute timer on your phone, or perhaps putting on a favourite 2 minute song while you clean your teeth.

Use small up-and-down circular motions to manually brush your teeth – don’t scrub back and forth, which again may damage your teeth in the long run. Angle the brush at 45 degrees and massage your teeth right up to the gum line.  

The pros and cons of electric toothbrushes

Instead of a manual toothbrush’s rectangular head, electric toothbrushes come with circular heads that spin round and round. That doesn’t mean you can simply let the brush do all the work though!

Rather than just dragging the electric brush from one tooth to the next, instead gently move the brush in small circles. Remember to brush all 3 tooth faces: the biting surface and both sides of each row of teeth.


Most electric brushes have a 2 minute timer that helps you know when you’ve brushed for the correct amount of time. It can also help to look for an electric toothbrush with a “4 x 30 seconds” timer. This prompts you to spend half a minute on each quadrant of your mouth, so that you don’t miss or under-brush any areas.

Something we commonly notice in our patients is that their “handedness” means that one side of their teeth arches gets more attention than the other. For example, a right handed person may find it easier to brush the left side of their mouth but neglect their right side. Since it’s easier to handle, an electric toothbrush can help overcome this problem.

Which toothbrush is best for my oral health?

With the right technique, either manual or electric toothbrushes can be effective. It’s just that electric brushes have a few “bells and whistles” that make them easier for you to get good results with.

Remember to choose a soft toothbrush or head, and gently brush in small circles for 2 minutes to ensure good oral hygiene.

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Talk to us about improving your oral hygiene

If you’d like to find out more about maintaining your oral health at home, get in touch with the Wickham Terrace Dental team on 3831 3031 or contact us online.

Topics: Dental hygiene, Oral hygiene

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