Sonic Vs Rotary electric toothbrushes: Which to buy?


Written by Dr Amrita Jain

Medically reviewed by  Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali Kabade BDS, TCC

Last updated Mar 20, 2024

Written by Dr Amrita Jain

Medically reviewed by  Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali Kabade BDS, TCC

Last updated Mar 20, 2024

Technologies and their limitless scope in the field of dentistry are something that has always wooed dentists and patients. People are always used to working with traditional tools and don’t really give a thought of upgrading their practices especially dental. The reason is, people usually are not aware of the various advances in dental products these days. One such example would be the use of electric toothbrushes. Let me start by asking, do you know what are electric toothbrushes?

There are always supporters on the use of manual toothbrushes as well as supporters of electric toothbrushes. Studies and facts suggest the use of electric toothbrushes always have some additional benefits in offering a better oral hygiene. Know that electric toothbrushes are considered better than manual toothbrushes, the never-ending debate on which brushing technology is better sonic or oscillating always remains a question mark? Let’s try and understand some studies that support either.

Brushing technology

The best brushing technology is the one that removes the maximum amount of plaque in 2 mintues of brushing time. Let’s look at some studies and real life examples to understand which may be better in comparison.

The rotary toothbrush or the oral B electric toothbrush uses the oscillating, rotating and pulsating motions to clean the surfaces of the teeth. The bristles as well as the disc rotates in 360 degrees so as to cover all sides of the tooth. This ensures proper cleaning of all surfaces of the tooth without having to make any manual efforts. Studies prove rotary toothbrushes are more powerful and effective in reducing the plaque. This in turn improves the oral hygiene and reduces the chances of gum inflammations and infections.

The sonic electric toothbrushes work on the technology of producing vibratory motions that break through the plaque colonies on the tooth surface and also aid in better interdental cleaning due to the vibrations. The only drawback being with sonic electric toothbrushes is that manual strokes need to be applied for efficient cleaning. More over sonic toothbrushes provide the necessary vibrations required in to and fro motions similar to the one which needs to be applied while performing the right brushing technique.


Sonic electric toothbrushes have a better design in comparison to rotary toothbrushes. These are sleeker with a better grip and resemble more like a manual toothbrush. Rotary toothbrushes are bulkier with their design so as to accommodate the motor of the toothbrush.

Rotary toothbrushes on the other hand also produce more motor noise in comparison to electric toothbrushes. So when a person sitting across the hall can hear the person brushing in the bathroom. But technology has its own pros and cons. I guess some people can bear with that and some may not. The iO series of the Oral-B still is much quieter in comparison to other series of oral-B toothbrushes.

Brush heads

The brush heads of the sonic ones resemble more of a normal toothbrush and are small. This makes it easier to reach the wisdom tooth areas as well. The brush head of the rotary toothbrushes on the other hand is slightly big and round. This is again because of the brushing technology rotary toothbrushes have to cup the entire tooth. Some rotary toothbrushes have criss-cross bristles for better cleansing action, but the bristles of the sonic ones usually are not criss-cross. This may be because of the vibrations it has to produce.

Wearing off the toothbrush is slightly expected to be more with sonic electric toothbrushes since there is no control on the amount of pressure being applied with manual strokes. Rotary toothbrushes on the other hand are a no-brainer in that context.


Sonic toothbrushes have comparatively more features than rotary electric toothbrushes which is actually not needed. This is because rotary toothbrushes are able to clean better without having to require additional features. Sonic toothbrushes produce 24,000-40,000 strokes/minute (a high power technology) whereas rotatory toothbrushes produce about 1500-8800 strokes/minute (low power technology)

The act of brushing

Sonic toothbrushes give a better experience by producing less toothpaste foam. Anything that rotates in a circular motion will tend to produce more lather and foam. So people having a gag reflex with the amount of foam can definitely opt for sonic toothbrushes.

Which lasts longer ?

The battery life of electric toothbrushes on average is based on the frequency you brush too. As dentists advise brushing for 2 minutes twice a day, sonic toothbrushes do last longer. Sonic toothbrushes have a battery life of about 3-4 weeks if brushed twice daily. This also means you need to recharge these less frequently than rotary toothbrushes which gives you an average of 2 weeks of battery life

Investing in an electric toothbrush

The mentality and thought process of every Indian would be “why spend on an electric toothbrush when a manual toothbrush is sufficient to get the work done”. But with this mentality, you don’t really get to question why do I still have dental problems in spite of brushing twice. Of course, there are many more reasons and factors that contribute to dental problems. But where your dental problems are still further away, you may see them coming early.

Using a manual toothbrush would also put me in a situation to ask if you are aware of the right brushing technique? Electric toothbrushes are hence a complete no-brainer. Investing in an electric toothbrush will definitely give you additional benefits and help improve your oral hygiene.

The bottom line

To begin with which one would you rather invest in, sonic or rotary? Rotary toothbrushes are comparatively more costly than sonic toothbrushes in India. Well, both have their own pros and depending on your budget, you can opt for either.

If you are a beginner, you can definitely try opting for sonic electric toothbrushes since they are much cheaper and easy to use. If you are used to using electric toothbrushes and not really worried about the cost factor you can definitely go for advanced rotary toothbrushes.


  • Electric toothbrushes have two different types, the sonic and the rotary.
  • Sonic and rotary toothbrushes differ in the brushing technologies.
  • Sonic electric toothbrushes produce vibrations in to and fro motions while rotary electric toothbrushes produce oscillating motions for effective cleaning.
  • Studies prove rotary toothbrushes have better cleaning efficiency.
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Author Bio: Dr. Amrita Jain is a practicing dental surgeon since 4 years. She completed her B.D.S in 2016 and was has been a rank holder throughout her course. She suggests “Holistic dentistry is the best dentistry”. Her treatment line follows a conservative pattern which means saving a tooth is of utmost priority and preventing your teeth from getting decayed rather than curing it with a root canal treatment. She inculcates the same while consulting her patients. Apart from her interest in clinical practice, she has developed interest in research and writing over a period of time. She states “It is my clinical experience that motivates me to write and spread dental awareness”. Her articles are well researched with a combination of technical knowledge and clinical experience.

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