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One very common question we receive is “should I get an electric toothbrush?” The question has persisted for decades, ruining marriages and losing jobs for those who disagree with one another.

An early toothbrush, designed for Napoleon Bonaparte. Seen at the bottom of the handle is the letter "N"

Not the first, but a toothbrush that was made for Napoleon Bonaparte

Toothbrushes have been in existence for millenia. The first toothbrush that is similar to what we know as toothbrushes today was seen in China, during the Tang Dynasty. William Addis, an English man, brought the first mass-produced toothbrush to 1780 England by placing bristles into a bone he’d sawed small holes into. And, not much has changed with the manual toothbrush since then.

assorted-color toothbrush lot

An electric toothbrush stands out amongst the pack of manual toothbrushes. Not sure why they’re being stored on a wooden fence, but to each their own!

Our opinion? In general, electric toothbrushes do a better job cleaning. Even the more basic electric toothbrushes these days provide oscillating brush heads that are able to remove plaque with more efficiency just by the nature of their design. With a manual toothbrush, you have to provide the oscillation, and you’re just not as good as a battery-powered machine. Additionally, these electric toothbrushes have an auto-off feature that stops the brush when you’ve brushed for the recommended 2 minutes. The average duration of tooth brushing with a manual toothbrush is closer to 45 seconds. It turns out humans aren’t great clocks. So, just by having the electric toothbrush you ensure a more complete brushing experience.

As technology improves, electric toothbrushes will continue to advance their features. They currently provide different modes for different issues (whitening versus sensitivity versus gum disease, etc.), and now can even tell you if you’ve missed a spot. These features are not a necessity, obviously, but for those who struggle with plaque development and disease, electric toothbrushes may provide a more efficient experience.

We’re not advocates of any particular brand, but some features we think you should look for: self-timing features, soft or extra-soft bristles, rechargeable battery, easy to travel with, and a pressure indicator.

Happy brushing!

  1. Ikawa T, Mizutani K, Sudo T, Kano C, Ikeda Y, Akizuki T, Kobayashi H, Izumi Y, Iwata T. Clinical comparison of an electric-powered ionic toothbrush and a manual toothbrush in plaque reduction: A randomized clinical trial. Int J Dent Hyg. 2021 Feb;19(1):93-98. doi: 10.1111/idh.12475. Epub 2020 Nov 1. PMID: 33029896.
  2. Gallagher et. al. The Effect of Brushing Time and Dentifrice on Dental Plaque Removal in vivo.
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