Before the invention of the modern toothbrush, there were a variety of methods and devices used for teeth cleaning. People would rub their teeth with sticks or feathers. Even chewing on pieces of sweet smelling wood with the hopes of a cleaner smile was common. The first use of a device with a handle and bristles on the end can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty, which ruled China from 619 to 907 A.D.

The toothbrush as we know it, with the plastic handle and nylon bristles, went on sale in 1938. The first electric toothbrush followed not very much later in 1954. The original idea was to create a device for people with limited motor skills, like an elderly person with arthritis or a small child. If they lacked the dexterity to properly brush their teeth, an electric toothbrush could assist them get a more thorough cleaning.

So which is the better brush? Well, it really comes down to personal preference. Research has concluded that a manual toothbrush, when used to brush in the proper method for a sufficient amount of time, gets your teeth just as clean as an electric toothbrush. Dentists believe that proper brushing technique and time are far more important that choice of brush when it comes to clean teeth.

However, there are some benefits to using the electric toothbrush over the manual version. Some come with timers to help you make sure you’re brushing each section of your mouth for the recommended amount of time. Others come with pressure sensors to make sure you’re brushing hard enough but not too hard, preventing damage to the tooth enamel and gums.

So which kind of toothbrush should you get? The one you like best and find the most effective. An electric toothbrush is not a necessity, but it can be a much more convenient option if you prefer. At the very least, it’s a better option that chewing on a twig.