Should I Use A Manual Or Electric Toothbrush For Braces?


Take a walk down the toothbrush aisle of your favorite grocery or drug store, and you may be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choices on display these days. There are sensitive toothpastes, whitening toothpastes, alcohol and alcohol-free mouthwashes, manual and electric toothbrushes— the sheer amount of choices can seem massive! No different than other aspects of life, your choice of dental hygiene products is all a matter of preference, just like whether we like baseball better than football, or the comic better than the movie, we may also prefer manual toothbrushes over electric ones, or vice versa. But when it does come down to it, electric toothbrushes have the edge over manual ones for patients undergoing orthodontic treatment. To make sure you keep your braces and teeth shiny and clean, the team at Castilla Orthodontics is here to help you out!

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

  • Brush 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.
  • Brush at least three times per day, after breakfast and dinner as well as after getting home from school.
  • Replace 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.
  • Make 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.
  • Floss 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.
  • Use antimicrobial and fluoride mouthwashes such as ACT mouthrinse.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste and a toothbrush with soft, rounded bristles.

Daily brushing and flossing helps to prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath— whether it is done with a manual toothbrush or an electric one. There are quite a few ways using an electric toothbrush can help you get a little extra out of your oral hygiene routine, even though in many ways, brushing your teeth with an electric toothbrush is very similar to brushing with a plain one.

Electric toothbrushes make it easier to manage brushing because they have settings like timers and brushing intensity for better control. They work well on metal, ceramic, and lingual braces. A two-minute timer that alerts the patient when it is time to stop brushing comes built in with most electric toothbrushes. Children and adults who use a manual toothbrush often times use it for just a few seconds and think that the full two minutes has passed. A timer helps patients brush for the full recommended times. For those who have limited dexterity or arthritis, and for those who do not brush long enough or brush incorrectly, electric toothbrushes make it much easier because they remove stains and plaque better than a manual. An electric toothbrush will make your teeth feel less fuzzy and filmy. With or without wearing braces, you definitely want to avoid plaque!

Pair of toothbrushes

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

You want to look for an electric toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles when brushing your teeth with braces. Gently apply pressure and allow the toothbrush to do the work for which it was intended. Take care around bands, brackets, and wires to ensure healthier gums, and remember to brush below and above the armature of the braces.

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

The best toothbrush for braces is an electric toothbrush, when it is all said and done. For added cleaning, 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. Castilla will always keep you up-to-date on the best methods of brushing teeth with braces!

Smiling young woman with dental braces choosing toothy brush.

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

Castilla Orthodontics is here to help support you as you work towards a more healthy smile, whatever your preference of toothbrush may be! Dr. Castilla and her team of orthodontic experts are happy to answer any and all questions you may have about brushing, flossing, and your health in general. If you are in the Salem area, stop by or call to setup your appointment so we can get started on the smile of your dreams. Happy brushing!