A Closer Look at Electric Toothbrushes

April is Oral Health month. As a dental hygienist I feel the need to share as much oral health information with as many people as possible, so this week I will do a few posts on the topic. I hope you all enjoy and learn something new!

I’ve already done a few posts related to dentistry. If you’ve missed them, be sure to check them out!

I like to think that I practice very conservative dentistry. I don’t use super fancy lasers available and never recommend products to patients just for the sake of promoting a brand. It’s just not my thing. I also rarely suggest something for a general population. Though we all have teeth that need proper care and maintenance, other than the standard ”brush and floss” I usually have individual plans for each patient. The only other thing I can think of that I would recommend for the general public is electric toothbrushes.

Why Electric?

Simply put, unless you’re brushing your teeth by perfect textbook technique (Yes, there is a proper technique) electric brushes are more effective than manual brushes. Few people care to put the effort into brushing their teeth as properly as they should. The electric toothbrush has proven over and over to remove more plaque/food/debris than manual toothbrushes.

What Type?

When looking for an electric toothbrush you want a head that is soft or ideally, extra soft, round and one that oscillates rather than vibrates back and forth. Like this:

Source: OralB

Source: OralB

Studies have shown, brushes that oscillate (spin in circles) are more effective than vibrating only brushes. Quite honestly, since I’m offering unsolicited advice, this is the only electric toothbrush type you should buy. If your prefer the other types that’s fine too but you’d probably be just as fine with a normal manual brush, save your money.

Gold Standard

The gold standard of electric toothbrushes would have to be the Oral B Triumph. At a pretty price of well over $100 you’re looking at an investment. Trying to maintain my honesty, though this is a fantastic product, I just can’t recommend anyone spend that money when the same company produces my personal favorite and most recommended, the Oral-B Vitality.

The Vitality is rechargeable and uses the same heads as the Triumph…sort of seems like a no brainer huh? You have to be careful as some ”electric” brushes don’t even have batteries you change, once it dies you have to throw it out! For about $20 you can buy the Vitality with a few choice of head options (I prefer and recommend the ”sensitive” or ultra soft head for anyone), and you can buy refills.

Source: Amazon

Source: Amazon

I try to price dental products wherever I go so I can recommend the cheaper places for my patients. The best prices I find in store for electric toothbrushes and replacement heads are Walmart and Costco, sometimes Amazon is good too but I find them to be hit and miss.

Anyone Can Use Electric Toothbrushes 

A lot of people think because they have crowns, bridges, implants that they can’t use an electric brush, that it may somehow damage the porcelain or gold work. The opposite is true. If you want to prolong the length of your restoration using an electric brush will help maintain your tissues better and more effectively clean your restoration.

As you can see from the above picture, the Vitality even has an ortho option for those with braces.

When I have a patient who uses an electric brush it’s usually quite obvious. If I suspect one of my patients use an electric brush I ask and my hunch is almost always right. Sometimes electric brushes are used because kids think they’re cool or guys think they’re a neat gadget, I don’t care why you choose to use one, if it works for you and is the motivation you need to brush your teeth all the power to you!

Finally, while we are on the topic of toothbrushes, there is a neat summary video from mojohealth containing ten tips for maintaining your oral health.

Enjoy Plunged in Debt?


Subscribe to get our latest content by email.

Powered by ConvertKit


  1. My mother-in-law got me a fancy electric toothbrush for Christmas and nothing has ever made my teeth feel cleaner!

  2. I have an Oral B electric toothbrush and it is AWESOME & worth every penny!! Your teeth don’t feel anywhere NEAR clean when you compare electric to manual. Great advice! 🙂

  3. My wife has one of the Oral B toothbrushes. We got it at Costco a few years ago and she loves it. She has had an issue with her gums receding and our dentist suggested she get one and it has helped her quite a bit with the sensitivity she was feeling.

    • Catherine says

      Yes the advantage of electric toothbrushes, specifically the high end ones, is that they usually stop moving if you start applying too much pressure which is great if you’re having recession issues.

  4. We use an electric, but we will look into an oscillating one when this one goes. They are so much more fun that ordinary toothbrushes! Thanks for the fab info!!

  5. I had one of those that only vibrate back and forth. I sort of ended up switching back to manual.

    You know what, I’m going to pick up the Vitality. Those are inexpensive and it’s worth experimenting. Thanks!

  6. I’ve always wanted one those high end electric brushes but could never justify the cost. I guess I’ll just have to stick with the basic brushes till them.

  7. I had one for years, but it finally died last year. Need to find a new Dentist here in Calgary and most are offering a Oral B electric toothbrush for new patients 🙂

  8. I actually did learn something. I get so frustrated by having to throw out my electric toothbrush because for whatever reason I can’t change the battery. I like getting the “inside” perspective on what you think is best!

  9. I have an oral B from costco too. I like it a lot and won’t go back to manual. It’s super important to keep your teeth healthy. My mom’s teeth are not good and she is having a lot of trouble now. It’s worth doing the work now so you don’t have to deal with bad teeth later.

  10. I used to, like 10 years ago, but I haven`t had one in years, but I´ve seen that they´ve become quite advanced then they were 10 years ago, so I`ve been seriously considering buying one, so this post was just the thing for me! 🙂

  11. Wow, $20 isn’t bad at all. I really need to look into this. My mother-in-law is a hygenist as well, and always recommends electric, but I don’t remember hearing about something as cheap as $20. Thanks for the tips!

  12. I have an Oral B electric toothbrush, but now I can’t find replacement heads for it. I have to go on Amazon or somewhere else online to find them and I am not down with that. I just want to be able to pick them up from the store. I paid good money for the toothbrush and I love the way it cleans.

    • Catherine says

      Have you asked the store you bought it at if they will order them in for you? Or ask your dentist to order them? Or contact Oral B directly and they can probably direct you to a store that may carry them? What a pain in the ass.

    • This sounds pretty much like me. I have an Oral-B toothbrush, but I can’t figure out which replacement heads to get. Maybe I should switch to the vitality to use the new heads, but I hope this isn’t a trend, in which they change the attachments every year so you have to buy a brand new toothbrush. 🙁

      • Catherine says

        Which toothbrush do you have? Most toothbrush heads of theirs are interchangeable, if not call OralB and they should be able to tell you which ones will work.

  13. I never got the hang of using an electric toothbrush. Toothpaste splatters everywhere! Maybe I’m uncoordinated, maybe I just don’t like that buzzing sound in my head. I brush my teeth with salt (not every time) followed by good-quality toothpaste. No matter what substance I use to brush, I make sure I reach all surfaces. My hygienist sincerely believes I am using the expensive electric toothbrush she recommended. I don’t correct her, and it allows her to feel very proud of the wonderful conditions inside my mouth.

  14. We definitely use electric toothbrushes. My dad was an oral surgeon so I saw firsthand the importance of good hygiene. In fact, my luggage got lost once and they said it would take a day or two to get it back to me. My biggest concern – getting my toothbrush! 🙂

  15. My husband’s toothbrushing technique apparently leaves a lot to be desired, so he uses a $30 electric at the suggestion of our dentist. (It’s “almost as good” as the $100+ ones, he says.)

    I have great technique, apparently! 🙂 So I use whatever I get free.

  16. Before I met my wife I used a manual toothbrush as there was no way I was paying the price for an electric one but it wasn’t something I even thought about. Growing up they taught us in the school system about brushing teeth with a manual and our parents taught us with a manual and that’s what we used. When I moved to Canada the wife had the Electric Oral B and now we both have one and we love them. They may cost a bit to replace the heads but it’s worth it. We both have nice teeth and I rarely if ever get a cavity. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Catherine says

      That’s great that you got education. There isn’t near enough in schools in Canada. Glad she made you a convert 😉

  17. I do not use an electric toothbrush, and we get regular ones so cheap with coupons that it’s hard to justify buying an electric one. I can definitely see the benefit of owning one, though.

    • Catherine says

      if you’re not having any problems and effectively using a manual that’s fine too! I use both. I ill tell you that Oral B was recently offering $15 off their electric brushes, including the vitality so you could get it for less than $10!

  18. We use the other type of electric toothbrush made by that company. We tried them out after they were free at CVS and our dentist has noticed a remarkable difference in our mouth health. When it’s time to change we’ll definitely try out the type that you recommend. Thanks Catherine.

  19. Occidental Charlie Hearse says

    My Oral B’s battery is just about dead, so your article was right on time for me. Unfortunately, the price for the Oral B Triumph 5000 in Canada is about C$175 to C$185, while it’s only US$110 at Amazon.com. Of course, Amazon.com refuses to ship it to Canada.

    I rarely travel to the US now, as I live too far from the border, so I’m going to have to solve the problem in another way. There’s no way I’m going to pay the Canadian price.

    • Catherine says

      Yes, I know…I’m in Canada too. Maybe look at the vitality then? It’s only $25 at Walmart.

      • Occidental Charlie Hearse says

        Catherine, I went back to Amazon.com out of curiosity. Lo and behold, the price had been reduced to US$135 plus US$5.54 shipping to Canada. I figured that, were I to use my American re-shipper’s services, the total price would have cost me more than that, so I ordered it from Amazon. Imagine, at the same time, Amazon.ca was asking C$175. TheIR left hand needs to tell theIR right hand what it’s doing. LOL!

  20. My best friend is a dental hygienist. She always tells me I’m a bad, “teeth brusher”. I’m considering buying electric toothbrushes for the bf and I. You only get one set of teeth, so investing in a good brush makes sense.

  21. We use the Oral B Triumph electric toothbrush and it really does the job! I just need to be more consistent with flossing since I am prone to getting cavities between my teeth.

  22. My husband and I both use Oral B electric toothbrushes and waterpiks. Together with flossing I’ve really improved my gums.

  23. Occidental Charlie Hearse says

    Catherine, what’s your opinion of G.U.M Soft Picks, as an alternative to flossing? I have difficulty flossing, and my dentist recently gave me a sample pack during a cleaning appointment. They’re easy for me to use.

    • Catherine says

      I think they’re great. Honestly I don’t care what you use to clean in between your teeth- whatever works! The point it to disturb the plaque formation every 24 hours. I have an older lady who is missing quite a few teeth and uses yarn!

  24. You forgot to mention probably the best reason to use an electric toothbrush: it forces you to brush you teeth for the recommended 2 minutes. I bet the average time a person brushes their teeth with a regular toothbrush is 30 seconds.

  25. My hygienist said that using an electric tooth brush might be the cause of my gum problems. Can it be true? Perhaps there are specific brushes that can not be harmful ?

  26. My husband has been afraid to use electronic toothbrushes because of some dental work he’s had. Neither of us knew that electronic toothbrushes are safe to use even if you do have dental implants or crowns. Is that true for ceramic crowns as well, or just those made of porcelain or gold? Thanks.

  27. Terry_dP says

    I had an Oral B electric about 12 years ago, and I have to say although I loved the way it felt on my gums, I did a better job manually than did the Oral B, which didn’t leave my teeth as clean. I now have an Arm and Hammer Spin Brush that does a better job than the Oral B did. I also like that it has a small, static brush on the head behind the spinning head. It has replaceable batteries, which is a must for me. It could be that the Oral B has improved over the years, and today’s Oral B ma clean as well as my Spin Brush, so when my $15 Spin Brush gives up the ghost I will probably go with an Oral B that has replaceable batteries.

  28. Hii,

    Thank you for providing such a great information. My wife also uses the electric toothbrush and it is very effective and yes you are right it oscillates rather than vibrating. It doesn’t harm your gums and it is more effective than other toothbrush.

    Even I am planning on to buy one for myself after my wife has witnessed all these benefits. Thank you again for your vital post.

    Jerry James


  1. […] in Debt – A Closer Look at Electric Toothbrushes – Catherine (a dental hygienist), talks about the benefits of electric toothbrushes, and even […]

  2. […] I also had a dentist appointent which I pay out of pocket, and finally picked up a good toothbrush with the advice from Catherine from Plunged in Debt. […]

  3. […] I’ve had an electric toothbrush for years – something about braces and receding gum lines…Plunged in Debt takes a closer look at electronic toothbrushes. […]

  4. […] A Closer Look at Electric Toothbrushes … – Plunged in Debt. A young couple ‘Took the Plunge’ and are now working their way out of debt. […]

Speak Your Mind