Regular Toothbrush vs. Electric Toothbrush for Braces

Man chooses between electric and manual toothbrush

If you are an orthodontic patient currently in braces, you know how challenging it can be to find an effective dental hygiene routine. It is easy for food to become trapped around the brackets and under the archwires, leading to the development of more bacteria and plaque. This increases your chances for cavities and even gum disease. That is why we always recommend brushing twice a day with for at least two minutes, especially first thing in the morning and just before you go to bed, which is also the ideal time to floss. While this is simple enough, in theory, choosing the best oral care products for braces can be more complicated than you think!

Check out the toothbrush aisle of any store and you may find yourself feeling a little overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choices on display. There is toothpaste for sensitive teeth, whitening kits for stains and discoloration, alcohol or alcohol-free mouthwash, manual or electric toothbrushes…who could blame us for just grabbing the first familiar item we see? Since most of these items tend to be equally effective, that is not really a problem. However, when it comes to toothbrushes it turns out that electric might have a slight edge over manual for patients who are undergoing orthodontic treatment. In fact, in a study comparing electric toothbrushes with manual toothbrushes, the American Journal of Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics found that there was significantly greater plaque removal with an electric brush over a manual one.

Here at Ollins Orthodontics, we are dedicated to helping our patients achieve success with their braces treatment, resulting in a beautifully aligned, fully functional smile. While many of our patients can and do clean their teeth perfectly well with a manual toothbrush, some have found it beneficial to use an electric version. If you use a regular toothbrush in your daily dental hygiene routine, keep reading to learn more about how an electric toothbrush could actually be a better choice!

What gives electric toothbrushes an advantage over manual brushes?

A number of studies have shown that electric toothbrushes remove significantly more plaque and do a better overall job of cleaning than manual brushes, with some of the top models removing up to double the total plaque. So what is it about these brushes that give them an edge?

Deeper and more effective cleaning

Because electric toothbrushes are designed to drive fluids between the teeth, they can get into the nooks and crannies braces create that regular toothbrushes struggle to reach. Most models also produce thousands of movements per minute, which is impossible to achieve with any brand of manual toothbrush, no matter how fast you brush!

Cleaning Modes

Many electric toothbrushes have customized cleaning modes that are designed specifically for tackling problem areas. There are sensitive modes for sensitive teeth, whitening and polishing modes for the removal of stains, tongue cleaning modes, and more. Your mouth will thank you!

Less room for user error

We know you do not have to be a genius to figure out brushing and flossing, but you may be surprised by how many people do not brush their teeth as recommended, even though cavities and gum damage can often be avoided by doing so. The timers, sensors, and modes of electric toothbrushes can take a lot of the guesswork out of it, so you can make the most out of each brushing session.

electric and manual toothbrushes isolated on white background

Choosing the right electric toothbrush for you

Electric toothbrushes come in a variety of types and offer many different features. If you are unsure about which type would work best for your teeth, our doctors would be happy to make a recommendation to help you decide!

Battery-powered toothbrushes

These brushes normally run on an AA or AAA battery and have a similar technique to manual toothbrushes. The difference lies in the design of the brush head, which has bristles that spin or pulsate, giving your brushing a little extra oomph. These more basic models will often still require a brushing motion since the power is only enhanced its cleaning ability. Many have let you keep the battery-powered base and change out the replaceable brush heads when they wear down. Battery-powered toothbrushes are the least expensive electric option, but you should be sure to replace the batteries as soon as they run out. If you leave dead batteries in your toothbrush, the acid could leak out and ruin your toothbrush.

Rechargeable toothbrushes

As the name implies, these brushes generally recharge using a base that plugs into a wall outlet, so there are no batteries to replace. Rechargeable brushes often offer more high-tech options, such as timers, pressure sensors, and replacement reminders. They may also have a variety of brushing options, like oscillation or vibration. The electric power of these brushes provides all the brushing you need, so you will not need to “brush” per se, so much as guide the brush across your teeth. These extra bells and whistles do come at a price, so expect these types of electric toothbrushes to cost a bit more than their battery-powered counterparts.

Electric toothbrush features 

Both types of brushes offer different features. Some of the more common features you are likely to find on various electric brushes include:

  • Timers –  useful if you have trouble keeping track of time or brushing long enough
  • Pressure sensors – sensors track your pressure and lets you know if you are brushing too hard, a great feature for patients who suffer from sensitive teeth or weak enamel
  • Multiple brush head compatibility – detachable brush heads let you replace the brush when the bristles wear out or choose a brush head based on your preferences, such as softer or firmer bristles
  • Different brush settings – offer multiple settings for more variety, including rotary (the head rotates only in one direction), counter-rotational (the head rotates in various directions), rotating-oscillating (different lengths of bristles rotate in opposite directions), and oscillating-pulsating (in addition to the oscillatory motion, there is an added pulsating motion to further enhance cleaning)

By weighing your options and deciding what you consider essential to your routine, you will be able to pick the perfect toothbrush for you!

Toothbrush with toothpaste

Brush your way to a better smile with Ollins Orthodontics

Whether you choose an electric toothbrush or decide to stick with your faithful manual one, always look for dental products that have been approved by the American Dental Association. Brushes with the ADA seal have been studied and tested for safety and effectiveness, and are guaranteed to perform as promised. We also encourage our braces patients to replace any toothbrush or brush head more often when you are undergoing orthodontic treatment since braces can be tough on bristles and can wear them out more quickly.

No matter your preference when it comes to the products you use to take care of your smile, we support you as you work towards a healthier mouth! Both of our doctors are always happy to answer any questions or address any concerns you have about your treatment process, and the whole Ollins Orthodontics team are here to provide extra encouragement anytime you need it. You and your smile are always our top priority!

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