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Your view: electric toothbrushes take the prize

Toothbrush with toothpaste tube

Last week we asked you whether you use an electric or manual toothbrush. As the referee of that debate, I have to award team electric the winners. But it was a valiant effort by the manual underdogs.

Beneath all the puns, this debate really got you nattering. Being outnumbered from the start, the odds were never in the manual camp’s favour.

But their hard work was rewarded when they finally managed to get some of you to question your brushing habits.

Every little helps

Lee bravely kicked it all off, immediately coming out in favour of the manual brush. His theory; why waste electricity when you can do it yourself?:

‘For me it’s the manual brush. Why would I want to waste money on electricity just to brush my teeth when a manual does the job? All these little things that use electricity soon add-up.’

I’m inclined to agree with Lee, but Wavechange challenged him:

‘I don’t think a toothbrush uses much power, Lee. I have not tested mine but its predecessor was OK.’

Who was quickly supported by terfar:

‘I don’t think you know exactly how little electricity a toothbrush uses? I have a travel toothbrush because I find it more convenient than mains rechargeable. It uses 2 x AA 1900mAh batteries that last about eight weeks using it twice daily.’

But manual reinforcements arrived when Beryl said:

‘An electric toothbrush is one gadget I can easily do without. They are silent and do a fine job.’

The battle was relentless and it all seemed to much for the manuals when Malcolm r countered with:

‘Save electricity by manual brushing? Make up for it by not turning the bathroom light on.’

Electric toothbrushes – they’re not without their problems

Even Wavechange started to see the faults of the electric brush

‘I have a fairly recent Oral B/Braun electric toothbrush and I am disappointed that the charging time is 16 hours, whereas my mobile phone charges very quickly.’

Dieseltaylor shared some wise words on their sustainability:

‘What happens to old batteries? I wonder what percentage of batteries are recovered and do not go to land fill. I am a simple man and think I will continue with a manual toothbrush at 40p a pop from Aldi.’

Puns, puns and more puns

Thanks to Clare, the debate wasn’t without its puns:

‘I’m a firm believer in the power of the electric toothbrush. Cleaner and more convenient… and that’s the tooth!’

So here are a couple of my favourite punnerific comments from the thread. Firstly, John Ward brought himself back on track after he veered from the community guidelines:

‘Mr Ward.: What on earth has all that got to do with cleaning your teeth? Get back on topic immediately before Patrick get’s his digital toothpick out and prises you off the site.’

And in second place, although I hate to say it, goes to Patrick with this comment:

‘Nice one Clare! When it comes to puns, I know the drill. But I wouldn’t want to hurt your fillings or get on your nerves by coming up with better puns. At least, that’s my flossify. ;)

Do you think electric toothbrushes are too temperamental? Are they a luxury we just don’t need or are you in agreement with my decision that they’re the most effective way to keep those teeth sparkling white?

Do you brush with a manual or an electric toothbrush?

An electric toothbrush, like Patrick (67%, 358 Votes)

A manual toothbrush, like Adam (33%, 178 Votes)

Total Voters: 535

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Norman says:
29 November 2014

I think at this time of year ‘Scrooge’ comes to mind. The main question here is, do you value YOUR teeth? Do you still want YOUR teeth when you get older. If Scrooge can’t afford an electric toothbrush then the answer is simple. Get an electric toothbrush given to you by your family for Christmas. Electric toothbrushes do the job properly. See Which? test results. As the TV meerkats say – Simples. You also get to keep YOUR teeth into the bargain. Do you fancy dentures? Ugh! Have you seen the price of tooth implants? Astronomic! KEEP YOUR OWN TEETH. DON’T BE A SCROOGE. Happy Christmas everybody.

Those concerned with counting the pennies might like to consider the cost of toothpaste. The tiny blob that will fit on the head of an electric toothbrush will, over time, prove to be much more economical than the strip of stripes one tends to spread over the bristles on a hand propelled brush.

I missed the previous debate but picked up an early Black Friday bargain of a new electric toothbrush. The difference between the new Oral B Pro 6000 and my previous cheap electric toothbrushes (that I only used occasionally) is amazing. There is even a smiley face that tells you when you have brushed long enough!

Never thought I would see a bluetooth toothbrush though !!!

Gerard Phelan says:
1 December 2014

My dentist charges about £120 for a filling and £600+ for a crown. Thus the only question I have about tools for cleaning teeth is which works best and so helps me avoid those costs – and keep my own teeth in my mouth. Compared with costs like these the price of electricity or batteries is irrelevant. My Dentist and Hygienist recommend electric toothbrushes and approve of the results they see after I have used them. I see no other basis for discussion.

Looks like an answer for the manual eco friendly individual as reported in Gizmag yesterday.

” The truly enduring component of the Goodwell toothbrush is the medical-grade aluminum handle. This combines with interchangeable, eco-friendly attachments to make up an environmentally friendly “toothkit.”

The toothbrush uses bristles made from biodegradable charcoal fibers, while the flossing and tongue scraping attachments are made from polished bamboo composite. This means they can be tossed in the compost rather than the trash can once you’re done with them. ”

So we can be green and stylish. I know a silversmith who made a replica 1820’s toothbrush where – surprise surprise – you slipped in a little wooden plug with bristles on into you silver toothbrush!

Wonderful. Goodwell will send you replacement toothbrush heads monthly. All the carriage and packaging doesn’t really sound very environmentally compared with buying a multi-pack of electric brush heads or toothbrushes that could last a year. It should be illegal to make environmental claims without looking at the overall picture.

I am not keen on toothbrushes made of natural materials, which are more likely than plastics to harbour bacteria. I don’t know about other people but I dip the business end of my toothbrush in dilute bleach at least once a week. Anyone horrified at the idea of putting a toothbrush in bleach should be aware that we use it on babies’ bottles. Use Milton if you like, but thin bleach is much cheaper.

I did not use my electric toothbrush that often, probabley a couple of times a week, and mostly preferred my manual. However on Monday of this week, I used my electric and broke a piece of my
crown, probably caused my too much pressure with my electric brush.
After a visit to my dentist this morning, I have a rather bright white temp, which makes the rest of my teeth look positively foul ( they’re not too bad really) until next week when I shall have a new crown, hopefully matching the rest, and I will be presented with a bill for £219.00.
The moral of this story is, don’t brush too hard, or do as I’ve done and bin your electric.
Long live the MANUAL!!

Peter: I would be interested to know what your Dentist had to say about it?

Eating and brushing can easily damage teeth, fillings and crowns that are in poor condition.

I felt a complaint coming on when I found a hard lump when eating Thornton’s Brazil Nut Toffee. Then I realised that the foreign object was one of my fillings. 🙁

I was looking forward to having an interesting conversation with my Dentist last week to hear his opinion on electric v manual but unfortunately had to cancel due to a very heavy cold. I hope to make another appointment this side of Christmas so watch this s space!

Get well soon Beryl!

I buy cheap tooth brushes and change every month and cannot believe the amount of hype produced to take peoples money.
But I would recommend the use of mouth wash

The main reason that I switched to an electric toothbrush was that I was damaging my gums with over zealous brushing, as pointed out by my dentist. I was already using soft toothbrushes, which are difficult to find. An electric brush was much better and I just have to be careful when I use a manual brush on holiday.

Assuming that we want an electric toothbrush, perhaps it’s time to look at some of the technical aspects. I am really disappointed that none of the offerings that feature in the Which? report will charge quickly. Of the ones tested, the fasted model took just short of 11.5 hours and the slowest one took nearly two days to recharge. My camera, tablet, laptop, shaver and phone all charge much more quickly.

Apart from the inconvenience, I don’t like leaving things charging when unattended. There is always a small risk of fire.

Perhaps the poor charging is due to the inductive (wireless) charging system not being very efficient.

This is interesting to non-users about the types. I know the types exist but no idea as to the efficacy difference. Courtesy of Stiftung Warentest and Bing Translator

Electric toothbrushes can be broadly classified into two groups:

Oscillating rotating brushes
“Sound active” toothbrushes

The “oscillating rotating” brushes have round heads, semi-circular back and forth swinging and partially also pulsate. “Sound active” toothbrushes have elongated heads. The term sonic toothbrush has become true, but not quite correct: because the brushes clean not with sound, but by vibrations of the brush head. Because these vibrations at a high frequency, comes a buzzer – hence the name. None of the two systems shows clear advantages in terms of cleaning performance. When buying an electric toothbrush, your individual cleaning behaviour should therefore play a role: with a brush head, you need to clean each tooth individually. Sonic Toothbrush clean more surface area with their elongated heads at once. For a user, who is slightly less eager and patient and tooth cleaning like easily would have it, Sonic Toothbrush can be the better choice.

Tip: In the Product Finder you can filter the electric toothbrushes even after the type of cleaning – how to find or all all oscillating rotating brush head

If only manufacturers (Braun, Philips etc.) would make them all with replaceable batteries or give a reasonable warranty (5 years) then electric would be a clean winner,

I would like to see legislation the requires products to use standard sizes of battery that can be replaced without tools. I expect that many products that we dispose of are still in good working order except that they need new batteries. It’s something that Which? could push for.

It’s best to avoid leaving rechargeable toothbrushes etc. plugged in all the time. This can shorten life of the battery. The manufacturer may say it’s OK to do this but they will want to sell you a new toothbrush.