Oral B electric toothbrush vs. manual toothbrush: which is better?

Oral B electric toothbrushes are popular, but do they really work better than ordinary toothbrushes? We examine the pros and cons of electric dental care

using electric toothbrush to clean teeth
(Image credit: Getty)

Have you been considering getting an Oral B electric toothbrush for yourself or someone else? These are amongst the best electric toothbrushes you'll find and are something of a cult dental care product, sold in every beauty supply and department store. 

But they're not cheap, either: depending on which model you buy, you could end up paying well over £100. So, worth asking for one for Christmas might be a good idea, or waiting for the Boxing Day sales. But are they really that much better than a cheap manual toothbrush? Find out below (and if you decide 'yes', there are some great deals to be had, too, at Amazon). 

So, what are the benefits of using an electric toothbrush as opposed to a regular, manual toothbrush? Who should consider investing in one, and what are the situations when they're really worth every penny? These are the pros and cons of both methods of cleaning your teeth:

1. The benefits of an electric toothbrush

  • They do remove more plaque: according to some studies, up to 21 per cent more than manual toothbrushes. Just to clarify: this doesn't mean that manual toothbrushes aren't effective at removing plaque, just that you may see better results with an electric toothbrush.
  • They help you brush for long enough: the fact is, the vast majority of us don't brush for the recommended three minutes. Electric toothbrushes have built-in timers that will encourage you to brush for the correct time.
  • You're less likely to brush too hard: most people who use manual toothbrushes end up applying too much pressure, which can result in gum trauma. Oral B toothbrushes alert you when you're brushing too hard.
  • They're great for people with mobility problems, especially people with arthritis.

The benefits of a manual toothbrush

  • They're cheaper: this is an incontrovertible fact: a manual toothbrush costs in the region of £3, and even replaced every two to three months won't cost you anywhere near an electric one; they are still effective at cleaning your teeth if used correctly.
  • They can be more eco-friendly: if you use biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes, you're not contributing to plastic pollution; with electric toothbrushes, you'll have to get replacement heads made of plastic.
  • They can be better for people with smaller teeth: manual toothbrushes come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and it's easier to find one that fits you mouth/tooth size than with electric toothbrushes.

In an ideal world, then, electric toothbrushes and manual toothbrushes are exactly the same in terms of effectiveness. In practice, though, most of us will benefit from an electric toothbrush, because most of us tend not to brush long/thoroughly enough when using a manual toothbrush. And electric toothbrushes are what the Realhomes.com dentist approves of over manual ones.