Power vs. Manual Toothbrushes: The Debate Continues
Posted on Wednesday, March 29th, 2017
In the ongoing debate over which toothbrush is better for you, power or manual, we ultimately come down on the side of “whichever you use regularly and effectively.” For some, that’s a power brush. For others, it’s manual. Some switch between both.
The main thing is brushing twice a day and, at minimum, flossing once. Using additional tools such as a Waterpik or proxy brushes is a plus – and something we recommend if you’re dealing with some degree of gum disease. (Most Americans are.)
Research has suggested at least a couple ways, though, in which power brushes may be better: reducing plaque and early stage gum disease (gingivitis). So maybe you should reach for that power brush after all?
Maybe. Maybe not. For a new study in PLoS ONE offers evidence that, under some circumstances, the action of a power toothbrush can actually harm teeth.
The research team investigated four different types of toothbrushes: a sonic brush, where the bristles move side to side; an oscillating brush, where the bristles rotate; a manual brush with a flat trim head; and a manual brush with a rippled head. For each of these, they simulated 8.5 years of twice-a-day brushing with a whitening toothpaste and looked at the impact on dentin. (Dentin is the layer of tissue between the enamel and pulp.)
What they found was that the action of the power brushes was much more abrasive than that of either manual brush. Where the dentin loss with the rippled head manual brush was just 2.5 micrometers, it was 21.03 with the sonic brush. As Dr. Bicuspid reported,
The results showed that a high stroke frequency with manual toothbrushes was less abrasive than the low stroke frequency of the power toothbrushes, according to the authors. The bristles of the sonic toothbrush traveled a longer distance compared with the oscillating-rotating toothbrush or the manual ones, which may have contributed to the greater dentin loss, they explained.
While these findings do go against a good amount of previous research, it can’t hurt to play it safe. So if you like using a power toothbrush, consider opting for a low abrasion toothpaste such as Oxyfresh. If you want to use a paste for amped up whitening, go for a manual brush instead.