If you’re still using a manual toothbrush, it’s really time to make the switch.
But this article isn’t about making that switch.  This article is for electric toothbrush users currently using a AA-powered toothbrushes instead of rechargeable ones.
At first glance, a rechargeable toothbrush costs more.  But, in the long run, does it really?
Think about the cost of a decent package of AA batteries and how long they last in an electric toothbrush.  On average, one AA battery costs about $1.00 or more.  And, depending on the brand, a toothbrush that uses two AA batteries maintains brushing power (although dwindling) for about 2 weeks.
From this estimate, we can conclude that operating costs for a non-rechargeable toothbrush costs about $1.00/week (the price of one AA battery).  This equates to $52.00/year in operating costs.  And don’t forget about the actual toothbrush that can cost anywhere from $8.00 to $20.00.
If we reach a happy medium and buy a $14.00 AA-powered toothbrush, that means we’re spending $66.00/year for a non-rechargeable toothbrush.  Plus the cost of head replacements.  But since head replacements are similar in cost for rechargeable and non-rechargeable models, we’re going to ignore the cost of them.
Now let’s consider the cost of a rechargeable toothbrush.
These can cost anywhere from $50 to $150 or more, depending on what kind you get.  The ones that cost more tend to have longer-lasting batteries and more features.  So let’s say we meet in the middle on features and decide to buy a rechargeable toothbrush for $100.  Also, let’s assume that operating costs are $10/year for electricity.  This means we’re spending $110 for a rechargeable toothbrush.  This isn’t an annual rate because your average $100 rechargeable model will last well over one year.
Like we said before, at first glance, rechargeable toothbrushes cost more.  So to determine what the better value is, we have to look at some other factors besides equipment and operating costs.  We also have to look at longevity, warranty and effectiveness.

  • Longevity and Warranty: If you’re lucky, a AA-powered toothbrush you pay $14 for will last for about 6 months.  Because inexpensive technology and materials are used, the electronic system that powers the toothbrush tends to malfunction sooner than later.  This means that you have to add an additional $14 to the annual cost of using a AA-powered device.  Now we’re at $80.00/year for a non-rechargeable toothbrush.  On the other hand, you have a $100 rechargeable toothbrush that comes with a 2 year warranty.  This means you have the toothbrush for at least two years – probably longer.
  • Effectiveness: Nearly every general and cosmetic dentistry in San Antonio, TX and other parts of the U.S. endorse electronic toothbrushes over manual toothbrushes.  They also like to stress the advantages of a rechargeable brush over a non-rechargeable one.  For instance, the former maintains consistent power.  While the AA batteries in a non-rechargeable device become weaker use after use, the battery in a rechargeable device delivers strong, consistent power as long as the toothbrush is kept on its charger.  What this means is simple: more brushing power = a cleaner a mouth.  And a cleaner mouth leads to less cavities down the road, which means less money spent.

Although the American Dental Association (ADA) does not support one model over the other, there’s a clear difference between the cost and effectiveness of each.
It’s also important to think about the environmental impact of each toothbrush.  Rechargeable toothbrushes are “greener” than non-rechargeable toothbrushes because they reduce the need of disposable batteries.
Remember the cost of AA batteries we talked about earlier?  About $1 per battery and needing to replace 2 AA’s every two weeks?  Based off of this, AA-powered toothbrush users throw away around 50 AA batteries each year!
Whether you’re part of the green movement or not, it’s important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each toothbrush.  Also, if you don’t have money for a rechargeable model now, spend less money on a non-rechargeable while saving up money for a rechargeable you like.
Regardless of what model you pick, throw that manual brush out and embrace the great feeling of a cleaner mouth.