In these modern times, even standard household objects like toothbrushes are equipped with advanced technology. With features such as built-in timers and different speed settings, it's no wonder that electric toothbrushes keep your mouth overall healthier vs. a regular manual toothbrush.* However, skepticism still remains as to whether purchasing an electric toothbrush is really worth it.
Wondering if that hi-tech power toothbrush on display at your dentist’s office is really better than the regular ones? What about a power electric toothbrush that uses AA batteries?
What’s the difference between them all?
Features of a power toothbrush
Simply stated, rechargeable electric toothbrushes (or “power” toothbrushes) provide superior plaque removal to regular manual toothbrushes. And because they provide the brushing action for you, many people find using power toothbrushes easier than using regular manual ones. Additionally, with so many different types and features available, it’s easy to find one that suits your specific oral health needs.
In addition to things like your brushing technique, how often you brush and the length of time you spend doing it, experts believe that the type of toothbrush you use will directly affect how well you remove plaque. In order to decide which type of power toothbrush is right for you, it’s helpful to understand exactly what kinds are available to you and how they differ from one another.
The three types of power toothbrushes
The three types of power toothbrushes on the market are rechargeable electric (including sonic), regular manual and battery power.
Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush: A rechargeable electric toothbrush, also known as a “power toothbrush”, is the kind you plug into the wall to recharge, keeping the handle and replacing the brush head every three months. Rechargeable electric toothbrushes differ among the kind of cleaning technology they use, such as oscillating-rotating (3D Cleaning Action) or sonic technology.
Regular Manual Toothbrush: In contrast, regular manual toothbrushes are the basic toothbrushes you’re probably accustomed to with a plastic handle and various nylon bristle designs on the brush head. This is the most common type of toothbrush, and it doesn’t require any power sources.
Battery Power Toothbrush: Those who want a dose of power but are weary of electric toothbrushes may like battery power toothbrushes. Like electric toothbrushes, battery power toothbrushes are sometimes simply called “power toothbrushes” due to their use of an AA battery. While similar in design to regular manual toothbrushes, battery power toothbrushes have just enough vibration to add some extra cleaning action.
Ease of use
Whereas you have to move a regular manual toothbrush back and forth along your teeth, power toothbrushes provide the cleaning action for you. That means you need only guide it along the surfaces of your teeth. Once they get the hang of it, many people find this method of brushing easier. Likewise, people with arthritis or other similar conditions may find using a power toothbrush less painful. Power toothbrushes may also help kids brush their teeth more effectively, but sure to check the age recommendations on an electric toothbrush before letting your child use it.
Assessing technology and features
Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush: Generally rich in technology and features, electric toothbrushes provide the many oral health benefits. Some can even enable you to improve your brushing habits. And most come with convenient features like a brush head or toothbrush holder, bathroom-counter storage units and travel toothbrush chargers.
Numerous brushing modes specialized for sensitive teeth, whitening benefits or gum-massaging action
Pressure sensors to signal when you’re brushing too hard
Timers to help you keep track of how long you’re brushing each quadrant of your mouth
Digital reminders to replace your brush head
Oscillating-rotating or sonic technology
Multiple brush head compatibility so you can choose which kind of bristle design you prefer
Most electric toothbrushes also come with features for added convenience, like a brush head or toothbrush holder, bathroom-counter storage units and travel toothbrush chargers.
Regular Manual Toothbrush: While ordinary toothbrushes don’t nearly provide the benefits and features of rechargeable electric toothbrushes, the technology featured in their brush heads, bristles and handle designs can be quite advanced, for example:
Crisscrossed, extra-long or multi-level bristles
Polished or rounded bristle tips
Cupped-bristle design for whitening benefits
Ergonomically designed handles with special grips
Tapered or angled brush head
Tongue cleaner pads
Battery Power Toothbrush: While similar in features to regular manual toothbrushes, these kinds of toothbrushes also vibrate to provide additional cleaning action.In addition to those of manual toothbrushes, features include:
Built-in AA battery that can be replaced in some models
”On/Off” or “+/-“ button located on the handle
Bristles or split brush heads specially designed to pulsate along with the vibrations
Modifying brushing technique
Proper brushing technique varies when using different kinds of toothbrushes. Both regular manual toothbrushes and battery power toothbrushes require you to provide all or most of the brushing action, moving the brush back and forth along all sides of your teeth and gums. In contrast, rechargeable electric toothbrushes provide the cleaning action while you need only guide it along all surfaces. Once they get the hang of it, many people find this method of brushing easier.
Electric Toothbrush Benefits Manual Toothbrushes Don’t Have
One of the biggest issues with a manual toothbrush is difficulty adhering to the recommended brushing time of two minutes or following the technique recommended by a dental professional. This results in a less than ideal tooth cleaning. Electric toothbrushes from Oral-B feature two-minute timers to make sure your teeth are getting the dental professional recommended clean. The timer features a 30-second alert that tells you when to switch the area (quadrant) you're brushing. This ensures that every part of your mouth gets the attention it needs to maintain a superior clean.** To protect your gums while brushing, some Oral-B oscillating-rotating-pulsating electric toothbrushes are also designed with a built-in pressure sensor to notify you if you're using too much force while brushing.
Different modes available on electric toothbrushes include deep clean, gum care, whitening, sensitive and tongue cleaning. Deep clean settings are also available to extend the timer to help you get a better clean. The gum care setting massages and stimulates the gum tissue. The sensitive option reduces the speed of the brush movement for a gentler cleaning, which might benefit people who have sensitive areas in their mouth. Brush speeds alternate on the whitening setting to give your teeth a nice polish. Tongue cleaning settings remind you to clean your tongue and improve the freshness of your breath.
Understanding electric toothbrush value
Rechargeable electric toothbrushes tend to have a higher price value than battery power and regular manual toothbrushes, but you can find some for as low as £20. Keep in mind that they offer more health benefits and features. Regular manual toothbrushes cost the least, and they are often sold in multi-packs as well as individually. Battery power toothbrushes are usually only a few pounds more than ordinary manual toothbrushes.
Looking at the full spectrum of benefits offered by an electric toothbrush can give you a clear picture of the value it can provide in the long term. For starters, most electric toothbrushes have affordable replacement brush heads, and you can buy different types of brush heads for a cleaning experience customized to your oral health needs.
Another factor to consider is that using an electric toothbrush keeps your mouth healthier vs. a regular manual toothbrush.* Getting a superior clean doesn’t have to be cost-prohibitive- Oral-B offers cost-effective electric toothbrush options. The Oral-B 2000 is a great entry-level electric toothbrush for those who are curious to improve their oral health. Oral-B electric toothbrushes are also rechargeable, which means you don't have to spend money on replacement batteries.
Trying out an electric toothbrush
It’s understandable to want to test-out a rechargeable electric toothbrush before buying a hi-tech one for the first time. While your dental professional is the best person to ask for a recommendation, you may also consider some affordable, entry tier options. They’re ideal for people who are curious about giving power a try but want a taste of what it’s like first.
Keep your oral health goals in mind when choosing an electric toothbrush. When shopping for an electric toothbrush, some things to consider include your individual brushing needs and other benefits, in addition to the types of replacement or refill brush heads you prefer.
If you're looking for whiter teeth, consider a model with a whitening mode. While most electric toothbrushes feature similar built-in brushing options, Oral-B electric toothbrushes (as of Smart Series 4000) takes it one step further by using Bluetooth® technology to sync up with your smartphone and provide you with real-time feedback on your brushing habits. Our most breakthrough feature, exclusive to Oral-B Genius, the revolutionary position detection guides you to cover all the zones of your mouth so you never miss a zone. Choosing the right electric toothbrush for your specific oral health needs helps you achieve better results and a more enjoyable brushing experience.
* Robinson PG, et al., Manual versus powered toothbrushing for oral health, The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2005; Issue 2. This study did not endorse, and is not affiliated with, Oral-B products.