Should you buy an electric toothbrush?

July 29, 2015

Thinking about making the switch from manual to electric toothbrush? Consider these facts first.

Should you buy an electric toothbrush?

You don't need an expensive electric toothbrush to give your teeth a good cleaning. Many dental-health experts say that if you brush for two minutes at least twice a day, floss regularly, and make scheduled visits to the dentist, manual toothbrushes are just as effective as powered brushes that can cost 50 times more! Of course, most of us only brush for 30 seconds or so, and brushing for a full two minutes is just too taxing for a lot of people, especially older folks and those who have restricted use of their hands or arms. For many, a powered toothbrush is a necessity for proper care of their teeth and gums.

Advice for buying a high-end electric toothbrush

A good high-end model can sell for more than $100, but here are a few things experts say to consider before you buy:

  •  If you are buying a high-end brush, look for one that signals (beeps) or turns off automatically after two minutes. Some models beep after 30 seconds to remind you to switch to a different quadrant of the mouth.
  • Look for a model with a built-in, rechargeable battery. A fully charged brush should have enough power for at least one week of brushing.
  • Make sure the brush-head replacements are reasonably priced, because they normally need to be replaced every three months.
  • If you tend to brush too hard with a manual toothbrush, consider a model that has a built-in sensor that stops the bristle movement when it senses you are applying too much pressure.
  • The standard warranty for a high-end electric brush is two years, but many users report no problems after four or more years of service.

Should you buy an inexpensive electric toothbrush?

If the thought of spending $100 or so on an electric toothbrush gives you sticker shock, good inexpensive alternatives are now available for about $10. And studies suggest that they clean almost as well as the pricey models. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Like their high-priced cousins, low-priced brushes require replacement of brush heads about four times a year. And the low-end models run on either one or two nonrechargeable AA batteries that require changing about once a month. Battery cost can add up.
  • There are no built-in signals or beeps with the no-frills bargain brushes, so you may wish to use a timer to ensure that you brush for a full two minutes.
  • Inexpensive electric brushes won't last as long as expensive models — warranties, if any, are brief — but you would have to go through ten of them to equal the cost of a high-end one.
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