electric vs. manual toothbrush

Can an Electric Toothbrush Really Damage My Teeth?

electric vs. manual toothbrushYou notice the recent chatter about the “danger” of electronic toothbrushes?

An article over at the Daily Mail seems to be the source – that hotbed of quality journalism [snerk]. Somehow one woman’s experience morphed into a trend of patients with teeth “DESTROYED” by electronic brushes. It’s mainly anecdotal evidence, peppered with comments from a couple of dentists. The one specific study mentioned only touched on the subject of toothbrush safety tangentially.

Maybe that’s because so much other science actually tells a different story.

  • A 2011 literature review in the International Dental Journal found that “there is no evidence to indicate that electric and manual toothbrushes differ in effects on soft and hard tissues.”
  • A meta-analysis published that same year in the Journal of Periodontology reached a similar conclusion: “A large body of published research in the preceding 2 decades has consistently shown oscillating-rotating toothbrushes to be safe compared to manual toothbrushes, demonstrating that these power toothbrushes do not pose a clinically relevant concern to hard or soft tissues.”
  • A 2013 study in Clinical Oral Investigations showed that brushing force was actually higher for manual brushes than electric – “significantly higher,” in fact. Compared with electronic brushing, manual brushing caused more abrasion of dentin – the middle tissue of the tooth that’s exposed when enamel wears away. The authors noted that patients with severe tooth wear should be advised to use electric brushes.
  • Just last month, a study in the Journal of Periodontology showed that among patients susceptible to gum recession, manual or electric brushing didn’t seem to make much of a difference. Neither made the recession worse.
  • On a similar note, another study published last month – this, in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology – showed that brushing with either a manual or electric brush improved gum health in patients already experiencing gum recession.

The most important thing, of course, is that whatever kind of brush you prefer, you use it. Good technique helps – which means not brushing too hard or too often, and always using the softest bristled brush you can find.

But hey, healthy gums don’t make grabby headlines. They just make for better overall health and wellness.

Image via Everyday Health