My name is Dr. Michael Krochak, Co-Founder at the NYC Smile Spa, and this is my dental blog! I document the latest trends in dentistry and oral health and hygiene!

Electric toothbrushes, Are they better than manual brushes?

Electric toothbrushes, Are they better than manual brushes?

Your mouth, as well as your entire GI system is covered with a biofilm. A biofilm has colonies of bacteria that stick to anatomical surfaces. Plaque is the sticky colonies of bacteria that form under your gumline, around the gumline of your teeth and between your teeth.  If not removed daily with proper brushing and flossing, these colonies will mineralize into calculus (tartar) which can only be removed professionally.  An amazing body of research over the last decade has proven that YES, the higher end electric toothbrushes ($100+ range) are IN FACT better at removing plaque than manual brushes.

The Oral B Braun and Sonicare toothbrushes remove plaque significantly better than manual brushing.  Personally, I prefer the Oral B model because the head is smaller and I feel it can adapt and reach between the teeth and below the gumline better than the Sonicare.  In addition, the Sonicare brush depends on sending out sonic waves to break up the plaque.  If your teeth are not perfectly aligned and spaced, then these sonic waves will bounce off crowded and overlapped teeth and NOT penetrate into these hard to clean areas. The Oral B Braun has the smallest head of all electric toothbrushes. I find the smaller heads are more effective because bulkier heads lead to missed areas.

Although the brush head of the Oral B looks like it’s spinning, It’s not!  Around 350 individual brush filaments are moving independently and sweeping away plaque in an oscillating motion.  The cheap $15-$25 spin brushes do NOT work as effectively. They are OK for small children who do not form as much plaque. The Sonicare electric brush pulsates or vibrates and IS effective at disrupting the biofilm so I do like it but prefer the Oral B for the reasons outlined above. The Oral B oscillations are also more effective in removing surface stains from foods, coffee, and wine.

The importance of changing your heads on the electric brushes every three months just like changing a manual toothbrush is vital to it’s effectiveness. The bristles are highly polished and rounded NOT to damage and scratch up your enamel which will lead to increased plaque retention. Using an old worn out manual toothbrush or electric toothbrush head will cause damage!  For that reason, the direct to consumer model now used by Quip, Goby and Boka has caught on as a convenient way of having automatic shipments of replacement heads every three months much like the direct to consumer razor blade companies. Without the costly markups from retailers, the pricing of these direct to consumer electric brushes are an attractive entry point for consumers. The sleek thin design of the Quip which uses batteries instead of a bulky rechargeable element has also made it popular.

However, some of these models are made in China with cheaper quality materials, questionable and less secure safety of the materials and less finely polished bristles which can lead to enamel damage. I do like the convenience for higher compliance in changing your brush every three months but I find these cheaper direct to consumer models to NOT be as strong and effective in removing plaque.

Therefore if I had to choose (and I personally have), I would make the investment in your health and buy the Oral B Braun electric brush if you still have a manual brush. And again, please buy extra heads so that you do in fact change them every three months or when you see the bristles are worn out. Electric toothbrushes are also ideal for children, elderly and physically handicapped individuals because these populations may not have the dexterity for proper plaque  removal techniques.

For more information, you can contact Dr. Michael Krochak at


NYC Smile Spa

30 E. 60th St., Rm 1201

New York, NY 10022

(212) 838-2900

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