Consumers can expect to spend a few dollars on a traditional toothbrush or more than $100 for a power toothbrush. The extra cost of a power toothbrush may be a good investment for some but a needless expense for others.

For those with extensive dental work, orthodontic braces or gum disease, a power toothbrush may be beneficial. Doctors at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry say when used correctly, power toothbrushes can be more effective at cleaning between the teeth than manual brushes, which can help prevent tooth decay – especially in patients who do not floss regularly.

Dr. Charles Wakefield, professor and director of the Advanced Education in General Dentistry Residency Program at TAMHSC-Baylor College of Dentistry, advises consumers to educate themselves on proper brushing technique when using a power toothbrush. Even with expensive power toothbrushes, bristles should be placed exactly where they need to be to remove plaque.

“There is still a huge need to get something in between the teeth to contact the tooth surface and clean off the plaque, which is what actually causes disease in gum tissue,” Dr. Wakefield says. “This means floss has to be used, or other items such as interproximal brushes.”

Dr. Wakefield warns that while timers on electric toothbrushes may encourage longer brushing, they do not necessarily encourage better brushing. Power toothbrushes are, however, a good alternative for individuals who experience physical difficulty holding or manipulating manual toothbrushes.

— LaDawn Brock