I found this answer about the benefits of electric toothbrushes with tons of sources. It only mentions the positive impacts on plaque removal and gingival inflammation (i.e. efficiency of the cleaning)

But the main argument I heard against the electric toothbrushes is that they are not as sensitive to the gingiva and, therefore, can be harmful to it while cleaning.

Also, I heard from two dentistry students two different opinions about the difference between the sonic and oscillating. Each of them was said at their university that one of the types is harmful and the other is ok.

Is there any study proving this negative effect on the gingiva?
Which of the types is better?

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    The answer you linked to is an outstanding answer with a high vote count, extensive references, and acceptance as being correct from the OP, who happens to be a physician. Why do you question it based on the opinions of two dentistry students? Do they have references to support their opinions?
    – Carey Gregory
    Dec 16, 2019 at 0:03
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    @CareyGregory I an mot questioning the validity of that answer at all. I found it very helpful. But the answer does not cover the topic of mechanical harming the gingiva. It only covers efficiency of cleaning, but not the possible harm. Also it was not opinions of the students but the lecturer who told them.
    – TGar
    Dec 16, 2019 at 10:58
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    @BryanKrause - TGar is talking about physical damage to the gingiva by the electric toothbrush. Dec 17, 2019 at 9:14
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    @TGar I'm skeptical that it is taught in dental schools. Two students telling you that isn't what I would call a reputable source. Maybe they misunderstood the instructor or maybe only that one instructor has that opinion. A vast improvement to your question would be to find a credible source showing it is mainstream dental teaching.
    – Carey Gregory
    Dec 17, 2019 at 20:23
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    @CareyGregory That is the reason why I asked the question because I don't take it as a sure thing, and I want to know the truth, and I didn't find any sources. It seems like you want from me to answer my own question, but if I am able to do that, I wouldn't have asked it in the first place. I don't understand your motivation for these comments, to be honest, I think that the question would make sense even without the mention of the students, I just added that to explain my motivation to ask.
    – TGar
    Dec 18, 2019 at 12:19

1 Answer 1


All toothbrushes can damage your gums. It all depends on the length of time and pressure applied whilst brushing.

The recommended brushing time is 2 minutes and there is a recommendation that you only apply the pressure of

up to two minutes and with greater pressure up to 150 grams of pressure, which is about the weight of an orange.

“Although we found that you have to brush your teeth reasonably long and hard to get rid of the harmful plaque which causes dental diseases, our research shows that once you go beyond a certain point, you aren't being any more effective,” says Heaseman, in a news release. “You could be actually harming your teeth and gums.” (WebMD, 2003).

Too much brushing, or brushing too hard can damage the protective enamel on your teeth or irritate your gums and cause other oral health problems (McCracken et al. 2003).

There are electric toothbrushes on the market which provide a visual indicator that you are brushing too hard and indicates the amount of time you have been brushing.

One I have flashes a red light if you press too hard and vibrates every 30 seconds.

If you purchase a brush like this it will help to ensure that you brush for the required time and not too hard.

If you don’t have one of these brushes and you are unsure how to go about brushing your teeth, the best thing to do is to make an appointment with your dentist or dental hygienist who will be able to train you in the correct techniques and will show you approximately how much pressure you should be applying


McCracken, G. I., Janssen, J., Swan, M., Steen, N., De Jager, M., & Heasman, P. A. (2003). Effect of brushing force and time on plaque removal using a powered toothbrush. Journal of clinical periodontology, 30(5), 409-413. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-051X.2003.20008.x

WebMD (2003). Go Easy on Your Toothbrush; Less is More. Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/news/20030620/go-easy-toothbrush

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