Smiling young woman with dental braces choosing toothy brush.

Regular Toothbrush vs. Electric Toothbrush for Braces

Posted on April 18, 2018 by Dr. Damon Szymanowski.

Life is all a matter of preference, whether we like Coke better than Pepsi, the book better than the movie, or manual toothbrushes better than electric ones. Take a walk down the toothbrush aisle of any store, and you may be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choices on display— there is sensitive toothpaste, whitening toothpaste, alcohol or alcohol-free mouthwash, manual or electric toothbrushes— so overwhelming! When it comes to toothbrushes, electrics have the edge over manual for patients undergoing orthodontic treatment. The team at Damon Smiles is here to help you keep your braces and teeth shiny and clean!

An electric toothbrush actually promotes better oral hygiene for those with dental braces, according to studies by the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics. An electric toothbrush outperforms a manual toothbrush before, during, and after orthodontic treatment for numerous reasons. Good oral hygiene can sometimes be a challenge for orthodontic patients in braces because food becomes easily trapped around the brackets and under the archwires. To get the best results from your dental hygiene routine, you should be:

  • replacing your toothbrush or brush head every 3-4 months, or sooner if it shows signs of wear, or if you have a cold or any other illness
  • making it a point to look for clean and shiny braces, with the edge of the brackets clearly visible, as fuzzy or dull-looking metal can indicate poor brushing habits
  • flossing at least once per day to remove bacteria and any food that has accumulated, taking advantage of tools like floss threaders and waterpiks if you are having difficulty getting into the tighter spaces
  • using antimicrobial and fluoride mouthwashes such as ACT mouthrinse
  • using fluoride toothpaste and a toothbrush with soft, rounded bristles
  • brushing at least three times per day, after breakfast and dinner as well as after getting home from school
  • brushing gently at a 45-degree angle toward the gumline and around the top and bottom of the braces, moving the toothbrush in a small circular motion across all surfaces of the teeth in order to effectively remove bacteria, as well as any trapped food particles

Whether it is done with a manual toothbrush or an electric one, daily brushing and flossing helps to prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath. In many ways, brushing your teeth with an electric toothbrush is very similar to brushing with a plain one, but there are quite a few ways using an electric toothbrush can help you get a little extra out of your oral hygiene routine.

Having settings like timers and brushing intensity for better control, make electric toothbrushes easier to manage brushing. They are ideal for metal, ceramic, and lingual braces. Most electric toothbrushes have a built-in 2 minute timer that alerts the patient when it is time to stop brushing. Often ties children and adults who use a manual toothbrush use it for just a few seconds and think that the full 2 minutes has passed. A timer helps patients brush for the full recommended times. Electric toothbrushes make it easier for those who do not brush long enough or brush incorrectly, and for those who have limited dexterity or arthritis. An electric toothbrush will make your teeth feel less fuzzy and filmy because it removes stains and plaque better. You definitely want to avoid plaque, with or without wearing braces.

Closeup view dental health care objects

Cavities and gum damage can be avoided just by cleaning your mouth the right way. Many people are surprised to learn they are not brushing their teeth in the correct manner. The timers, sensors, and modes of electric toothbrushes make the most of each brushing session because it take most of the guesswork out of it.

You want to look for an electric toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles when brushing your teeth with braces. Allow the toothbrush to do the work for which it was intended by gently applying pressure. Remember to brush below and above the armature of the braces and to take care around bands, brackets, and wires to ensure healthier gums.

A manual toothbrush will work just fine with braces, but they can possibly lead to poor brushing in some people. People tend to brush for shorter periods of time when using a manual brush, according to some studies. You should always brush your teeth for at least two minutes at a time, twice a day. Learn to love your toothbrush!

When it is all said and done, the best toothbrush for braces is an electric toothbrush. An interdental brush can help you reach the backs and interproximal areas of your teeth. These brushes reach the hard to get to areas and all those nooks and crannies that either an electric or manual toothbrush may miss. Dr. Damon will always keep you up-to-date on the best methods of brushing teeth with braces!

mother and daughter brushing their teeth

Always look for the ADA Seal (American Dental Association) when purchasing a toothbrush, whether electric or manual.  A toothbrush with the ADA seal means it has been studied and tested for safety and effectiveness and is guaranteed to perform as promised. While you are undergoing orthodontic braces treatment it is important to remember to replace manual toothbrushes or electric toothbrush heads more often. The braces can be a little tougher on the bristles, so it is a good idea to replace them more often to ensure the best possible performance.

Whatever your preference, Damon Smiles is here to help support you as you work towards a more healthy smile. Dr. Damon is happy to answer any and all questions you may have about brushing, flossing, and your health in general. If you are in the Sacramento area, stop by or call to setup your appointment. We want to help you have the smile you have always dreamed of!