Basically all the evidence suggests that both are effective ways of removing plaque when used correctly.
I have used them all- Sonicare, Oral B, battery operated Colgate ones and it doesn’t really make that much difference- I have gone back to my favourite manual brush but I would be happy with any of them.
People get hung up on the type of brush when the fact is, it is how well you are using it, that's far more important. I have seen brilliant hygiene with both and terrible hygiene with both. If you don't put the electric toothbrush in the right place, there is no way it can do its job- remember it's an electric toothbrush not a magic wand.
Heads that oscillate have been shown to be slightly more effective at removing plaque than those that vibrate (sonic) but it isn’t going to begin to affect the amount of fillings or gum disease you experience. Some people just love the ‘dentist clean feeling’ that the electric toothbrush can give them- I think that’s somebody’s advertising moto!
Am I against electric toothbrushes?- No, not at all, but the advantages over a manual toothbrush aren’t in my opinion as much as the manufacturers claim.
Two circumstances where I highly recommend them are:
- In cases of limited dexterity- if you have arthritis or any other condition that makes either gripping or maneuvering the toothbrush difficult they can be great. You can actually buy toothbrush grips too for manual toothbrushes that thicken the shaft to make it easier to hold.
- If you aren’t a very motivated brusher or if your child isn’t and investing 50-150 dollars on a electrical toothbrush is going to 'wow' you into putting some more care and attention into your teeth- then I'm all for it.
I'm going to sit on the fence with this one- each to their own- whichever you use, using it properly is the key.