Which toothbrush should I use for the best results - a manual toothbrush or an electric toothbrush?

A lot of patients ask me which toothbrush they should be using to achieve the best results for their oral health and to have the cleanest teeth. They often wonder whether they should use a manual toothbrush, or an electric one.

The answer to that question is that the best toothbrush is whatever allows you to brush your teeth effectively. When choosing a manual toothbrush, you should ensure that you're using one with soft bristles. Many people like to use medium or hard toothbrush heads, but that can easily brush away your gums and your teeth. As we all know, you want to keep your teeth for as long as possible.

When it comes to electric toothbrushes, the heads generally have soft bristles, so you don't have to worry about whether you're getting a medium or hard toothbrush head. Whether you use a manual or an electric toothbrush depends on which one you can use more effectively. Some people do better with manual toothbrushes, while others prefer electric ones. The method or technique used to clean your teeth is also crucial.

The only way to know whether or not you're brushing your teeth effectively is to get regular checkups. During these visits, we can give you feedback and guide you on what you need to do to get better results.

How to properly brush your teeth with a manual toothbrush

It is recommended to brush your teeth for at least two minutes. If you want to take longer, feel free. I personally brush for about four minutes once a day. Brushing well once a day is better than brushing poorly several times a day. It's the quality of your brushing, not the quantity, that matters.

It's important to develop a system. Start brushing in one area, then move to another, and so on. This ensures you reach all areas of your mouth. Once you establish a system, stick to it and ask your hygienist or dentist for feedback during your checkups and cleanings. They can provide detailed exam results and point out areas you may be missing.

People often believe that if they are brushing their teeth regularly, their gums are healthy. However, you won't truly know until you go in for a checkup and your dental professional performs a detailed exam and provides feedback.

Let's pretend we're starting with our upper right side. Angle the toothbrush 45 degrees to avoid missing the gum line. Brush in little circles, then flip the toothbrush and continue brushing. When you reach the front teeth, hold the toothbrush vertically and continue with the little circles. A lot of people get tartar here because they don't clean well, so pay extra attention to this area.

A common mistake is brushing horizontally rather than vertically, especially for the front teeth. This makes you likely to miss the gumline. Moreover, some people push the toothbrush up while brushing, leading to a false sense of cleanliness. This area often has plaque left behind, making the gums puffy and red.

I recommend brushing in front of a mirror so you can see where you're brushing. After brushing and rinsing, run your tongue around your teeth. If they feel smooth, you've successfully removed the plaque. If not, go back and clean that area again.

How to use an electric toothbrush

There is a significant difference between an electric toothbrush and a manual toothbrush. To use an electric toothbrush, turn on the toothbrush and hold it in place for 1-2 seconds over each tooth surface, angling it at the gum line. The toothbrush should not be moved around like a regular toothbrush, but held in place.

The electric toothbrush cleans not only where it touches but also beyond that area, 1-3 millimeters past where it touches. This is due to the sound waves it emits, which travel through water medium like saliva. The correct brushing technique involves holding the toothbrush at an angle for 1-2 seconds over each tooth surface. When brushing the front teeth, the toothbrush should be held vertically.

Electric toothbrushes typically have timers that recalibrate every 30 seconds and sensors that indicate if you're pressing too hard or not hard enough. If the sensor turns red, you're pressing too hard. Yellow means you're not using enough force, and green means you're using the right amount of force. You should not brush less than two minutes, but you can brush longer if needed.

After brushing, you should use your tongue to feel your teeth. If they don't feel smooth, you should go back with the toothbrush for a few more seconds. You can tell if you're brushing effectively if your teeth feel smooth after brushing. If they're not smooth, you may be overdue for a dental cleaning.