Should I buy an electric toothbrush?

Electric toothbrushes

Should I buy an electric toothbrush?

by Oli McKean
Electric toothbrushes are often recommended for improved dental hygiene – but do they live up to the hype?

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Brushing with an electric toothbrush is a quick and easy way to help keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy. But they're more expensive than a regular toothbrush, and the replacement brush heads can be pricey, too.

Read on to find out more about the pros and cons to help you decide whether an electric toothbrush is the right choice for you.

If you simply want to see which brush gives the best clean, head straight to our electric toothbrush reviews.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Brushing requires less effort than with a regular toothbrush.
  • Some electric toothbrushes have useful extra features, such as timers, to help improve your brushing technique.
  • They have been shown to remove more plaque over time, compared with a regular toothbrush.

Cons

  • Costly to buy.
  • Replacing the brush heads is also expensive.
  • They're not essential, as you can still get a great clean with a regular toothbrush.
  • Some have to be recharged frequently and won't last for long trips.
  • Brushing too hard can wear away the enamel on your teeth.

We've tested electric toothbrushes from big brands such as Colgate, Oral B and Philips. 

Find out which brands come top in our tests by checking out our Best Buy electric toothbrushes

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Manual vs electric toothbrushes

With claims such as '100% plaque removal' and 'sonic technology' on their packaging, it's easy to assume electric toothbrushes clean better than regular ones.

Results from widespread clinical trials comparing the two types indicate that brushing with an electric model is slightly more likely to help your teeth and gums stay healthy in the long-term, compared with manual brushes.

But according to dental experts, how you brush is more important than what you brush with. To get the best clean from your electric or regular toothbrush, read our step-by-step how to brush with an electric toothbrush guide.

If you prefer to use a manual toothbrush, choose one with a comfortable handle and soft bristles – brushes with hard bristles can damage soft oral tissue.

Are electric toothbrushes better?

The key to great brushing is doing it gently and for long enough, and systematically cleaning the inside and outside surfaces of all of your teeth. This is where an electric toothbrush can have the edge over a manual one, as it can help you get an even clean across all of your mouth.

Most electric models have two-minute cleaning programmes as standard. These are invaluable for helping you make sure you spend enough time cleaning your teeth.

Some have interval timers to signal when to move on to the next section of teeth, and some have pressure sensors that indicate if you're brushing too hard.