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We all know the importance of brushing our teeth at least twice a day, but should we also be investing in a fancy electric toothbrush to get the job done or is it best to use a traditional manual one? To get a definitive answer on which brush cleans our teeth best, we asked celebrity cosmetic dentist Dr. Kevin Sands to break it all down for us. To learn about the difference and which toothbrush you should be using, read on below.

How should we be brushing our teeth?

Before we dive into the differences between the two types of toothbrushes, we have to look at how we should be brushing our teeth in the first place. The American Dental Association recommends brushing teeth daily, at least once in the morning and once at night, on the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of the teeth for two whole minutes. We are supposed to place our toothbrushes at a 45-degree angle to our gums and gently move the brush back and forth in short, tooth-wide strokes. To clean the insides, you'll want to tilt the brush vertically and make up-and-down strokes.

As for the best toothbrush to use, the ADA recommends looking for a soft-bristled brush that fits your mouth and allows you to reach all areas easily. The ADA also says to replace your toothbrush every three or four months, as a worn-out toothbrush won't do a good job cleaning. And be sure to pick a fluoride toothpaste.

holding electric toothbrush over sink
Credit: Grace Cary / Getty Image

What's the main difference between an electric toothbrush and a manual one?

Dr. Sands says that, when it comes down to which is more effective at keeping teeth plaque-free, the answer will really vary from person to person and from toothbrush to toothbrush. "Each person should consult with their dentist or hygienist to make the best decision for their individual needs," he says. "This being said, I will say that both can be just as effective as long as the correct brushing techniques are used and brushing is paired with daily flossing."

How to tell which brush is best for you?

Since no one brush is technically better than the other, Dr. Sands says to consider the following when deciding which will be best for you. If you're someone who frequently travels, he says a manual toothbrush might be a better option as it can be easily accessible while you're on the go. Something like the Oral-B's Sensi-Soft Manual Toothbrush ($4.97, is gentle but will also keep both your gums and teeth healthy.

Electric toothbrushes are great for everyone, but Dr. Sands says they're especially beneficial for those who have limited mobility or suffer from carpal tunnel or arthritis. As an added bonus, some electric toothbrushes have timers on them so you know you're brushing for long enough. While it might feel that an electric toothbrush is better at removing plaque or preventing gingivitis, Dr. Sands says what's most important is your brushing technique (and to remember to floss!). His favorite electric toothbrush is the Philips Sonicare Sonic Vibrations ($49.99, "The shape of the head is like a normal toothbrush head and there are different settings like gum care mode, clean mode, polish mode, and so forth," he says.


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