Are Electric Toothbrushes Good for Braces?

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Electric or Manual - Which Toothbrush Should You Choose?

We’ve already reviewed the ideal time to change your toothbrush, but will wearing braces require you to change the type of toothbrush you use?

Your dentist and/or orthodontist may recommend that you switch from an analog, manual brush to a motorized electric brush for any one of the following reasons:

  • More effective plaque removal
  • Easier accessibility
  • Convenient built-in timers
  • Extra brush movements
  • Convenient speed and sensitivity settings
  • Built-in app capability to evaluate brushing quality
  • Gum & enamel safety

But will those same safety functions extend to an orthodontic appliance? Can you use an electric toothbrush while wearing braces, or is manual a more viable alternative? Read on to find out.

How to Use an Electric Toothbrush for Braces

Fortunately, electric toothbrushes are extremely safe with orthodontic appliances. When used properly, they’re arguably safer and more effective for braces than manual toothbrushes! In many respects, though, the methods by which you would go about brushing with them are fairly similar. When using a manual or electric brush for braces, abide by these same steps:

  1. Rinse brush head and apply toothpaste
  2. Devote 30 seconds each to all four quadrants of your teeth
  3. Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle, slowly moving it back and forth
  4. Concentrate on the teeth surface, and the upper and lower part of the appliance
  5. For a deeper clean, brush around the tongue as well
  6. Spit, rinse, enjoy a clean smile!

The 45-degree angle is crucial. It maximizes your contact with the essential areas to clean and minimizes direct pressure exerted on the appliance. Also, remember to floss, gargle mouthwash for 30 seconds, and use a Waterpik irrigator or inter-dental brush for good measure.

No speed or sensitivity setting should damage your braces, but still, it’s good to exercise caution and play around to find the best speed and pressure settings for you. Keeping your teeth clean doesn’t have to come at the expense of your appliance’s stability, and it shouldn’t.

Electric Toothbrush and Manual Toothbrush Side-By-Side

Better for Braces: Electric Toothbrush or Manual?

If anything should be taken away from the previous section, it’s that safely brushing with braces is less about the tool and more about how you use the tool. You could invest in a car as expensive as a Lamborghini, but that extra cost won’t do much good if you just flippantly crash the car.

The same logic applies to toothbrushes; a built-in timer could become useless if you totally ignore it, just as the sensitivity settings could if you decide to manually exert too much (or too little) pressure. Really, both manual and electric toothbrushes can be sufficient for cleaning braces if you use them properly.

That said, there’s evidence that it might be easier to meet that efficiency with electric brushes than manual ones. Brushes with app compatibility, like certain models offered by Oral-B, can measure brush performance to give you a better picture of what you’re doing right, and what you could improve on. Likewise, the motor enhancement offers a somewhat deeper clean than your hands could accomplish manually.

While a manual toothbrush has been measured to complete 300-600 brush movements a minute, electric toothbrush models can easily complete thousands, to even tens of thousands, of movements within a single minute.

Naturally, you would assume that translates to a deeper clean, and you would assume correctly: according to a Cochrane study, electric toothbrushes could be 11% more effective at plaque removal than manual brushes. While manual brushes are usually perfectly fine for getting the job done, you may want to consider switching to electric if you find that it’s not getting the job done for you.

Which Electric Toothbrush HEAD Is Best for Braces?

Effectively, any toothbrush is safe with braces, so long as you move it safely. But, for the most optimal levels of safety and comfort, we highly recommend that you stick to a small, snug, and soft-bristled brush head. For the most reusability and reduced waste, we recommended avoiding disposable electric brushes, and instead opting for models that can interchange brush heads.

For adult teeth, it’s recommended that you stick to a brush head that is circular, a half-inch wide, and one-inch tall. That brush head size should be small enough to safely and nimbly clean even the hardest-to-reach areas. Nimble agility is all the higher a priority when you have to carefully navigate with a fixed orthodontic appliance in place.

Which Electric Toothbrush Is Best for Braces?

Some of the most popular electric toothbrush brands you’ll find on the market include:

  • Oral-B
  • Philips Sonicare
  • Quip
  • Burst

These product lines are reputable, widely used, and widely agreed to be well-made, robust, and highly effective products. Really, any one of these brands and any other electric toothbrush brand could do, as could a manual brush in most (though not all) cases. However, no matter what kind of electric toothbrush you choose, you should look for these essential qualities:

  • Interchangeable brush heads, ideally with the specifications described above.
  • Timer and pressure sensor to reinforce optimal brushing performance
  • Refund policy, so won’t unnecessarily waste money if the model dissatisfies you
  • An advertised back-and-forth oscillating motion

Back and forth motor oscillation plays a crucial part in accomplishing those tens of thousands of brush movements per minute. And, even if you can’t afford a brush with app capability, built-in timers and pressure sensors are really all you need to assess electric brushing performance and overall safety.

No matter which brush you choose, we hope you brush carefully, mindfully, responsibly, and diligently, for at least two minutes two times a day! Whether or wear braces or not, brushing your teeth is the essential, most basic backbone behind a good oral hygiene regimen and beautiful pearly smile.