An electric toothbrush will usually be more expensive than a basic manual brush. So is it really worth spending the extra money or is it all just a big con?

It’s an interesting question because not even all dentists agree. How are we supposed to know what’s best if the professionals don’t agree? Well, we’ve gone away and looked at the scientific evidence so that you don’t have to.

The best evidence we could find was created by the lovely people at Cochrane. Cochrane is a group of very clever, science people who bring together all of the evidence and review it. They are great at cutting through all of the rubbish made up by companies who want to sell you stuff.

Cochrane compared the evidence on manual versus electric brushes in June 2014.

They were looking for evidence on how much plaque was removed by different toothbrushes. Plaque is a soft build up of bacteria on your teeth. Bacteria are the critters that are responsible for both tooth decay and gum disease. That’s why we measure the quality of a toothbrush on how much plaque it removes.

The evidence showed that an electric toothbrush does have benefits over a manual brush.

People using electric brushes had less plaque than when they used a manual brush.

Cochrane also found that people using an electric brush had less gingivitis (bleeding gums).

They didn’t look at different brands or different ranges of brushes. The important thing to understand is this. The most expensive toothbrush in the range is not necessarily the best. Often the toothbrush at the top of the range and in the middle of the range are exactly the same.

The difference may be that they have added some extra useless gadgets or apps for your phone. There are a couple of brushes out there now that can be connected to your phone. One app tries to guide you as you clean different areas around your mouth.

I have tried this app and I have to say that it’s useless. It doesn’t work properly. It’s just a distraction. I cannot see why you would pay extra for gimmicks like this.

My advice is to stick to the middle of the range. Forget the gadgets. The important thing is the brush.

For tips on buying an electric toothbrush, read our article.

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