Are Electric Toothbrushes Actually Better?

Time and time again there are always a plethora of TV commercials, magazine ads, radio station ads, etc constantly promoting the next best thing.  This is especially true when it comes to toothbrushes or toothpastes.  I for one am a normal toothbrush kind of gal, but I have seen a lot of people who use electric toothbrushes.  It always seemed like the electric toothbrush would be more detrimental to your oral health because it is essentially grinding off all your enamel, at least that is what thought pops into my head when I think about it, but what if using an electric toothbrush actually proves to increase your oral health more than a regular toothbrush?  I am all about oral hygiene therefore I wanted to do some research.

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The initial post I found was from which is basically consumer reports and opinions of a wide array of products.  This website itself provided some information, but ultimately led me to my most factual and engaging article from  where a study was conducted to compare the two.  The Cochrane Oral Health Group was the organization to run all these studies which in total included not one study, but over 50 studies, generating a total involvement of around 5,000 participants which is a pretty substantial amount of people thus insinuating that whatever the outcome they deduce from their experiments always could be do to chance, but is it very unlikely considering the amount of people involved and the fact that this is a randomized control trial.  The Cochrane Oral Health Group gave half of the participants a normal toothbrush and the other half an electric toothbrush which successfully creates a control group (participants using the normal toothbrushes) and an experimental group (participants using the electric toothbrush).  The null hypothesis proposed here would be that neither the electric or the normal toothbrush has more of an advantage than the other when it comes to oral hygiene and health.  On the other hand, the alternative hypothesis would be that the electric toothbrush does have an edge over the normal tooth brush.  Ultimately, through their multitude of studies, The Cochrane Oral Health Group seemed to side with the alternative hypothesis due to their results exclaiming a 21% decline in the amount of plaque present on teeth and gums when using an electric toothbrush rather than a normal one for a few months.  Although this may seem like substantial evidence to ditch your normal average joe toothbrush for a brand spanking new electric one, you may want to think twice before doing so.  There are a variety of confounding third variables that could be playing a part in the results The Cochrane Oral Health Group found.  For instance, they clearly state that more than half of the experiments were done with adults and with a very specific electric toothbrush.  These results remind me a lot of the example Andrew talked about in class regarding if sugary drinks, like soda, cause weight gain.  The study for that hypothesis was done exceptionally well and involved a high volume of participants, but the results were extremely specific to dutch children.  Just because it made dutch children gain weight does not mean it makes everyone gain weight much like here.  Just because this specific electric toothbrush reduces plaque buildup for adults after a few months does not mean it reduce plaque for everybody.  Electric toothbrushes as well as normal toothbrushes, like I thought as one of my first statements in this blog, can cause an immense amount of damage to the enamel of your teeth when to aggressively or excessively brushing.

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Sure there are some benefits when it comes to using an electric toothbrush rather than a normal toothbrush, but when put in perspective with the shared cons electric toothbrushes and normal toothbrushes produce, in my opinion their effectiveness becomes equal. There is not enough evidence to say for sure which exceeds the other, but it is safe to say there is definitely something going on here.  Although there are some confound third variables to take into account when focusing on the results of the study, the numbers are pretty substantial. Therefore,if you are someone who is extremely focused on oral health and hygiene, it may not be a bad idea to go out and get yourself an electric toothbrush, the worst it can do is work just as well as a normal toothbrush.


2 thoughts on “Are Electric Toothbrushes Actually Better?

  1. Thomas Tatem Moore

    I have always questioned the difference between electric tooth brushes and regular tooth brushes. Ironically currently I use an electric tooth brush, but don’t even turn it on. Here is a video that describes the differences between the two.

    1. Olivia Helen DeArment

      When it comes to teeth brushing, my family is an expert. I live an orthodontist father and a dentist mother. I am always getting lectures on brushing flossing, you name it. My mom would always tell me that both are pretty much equal on how much they clean, but it actually depends on the individual using the products. For example, those who are poor brushers, or lack in hygiene typically are recommended an electric, since it does half the work for you. However, if an individual is sufficient at brushing, a normal toothbrush would work just as well.

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