It’s a hotly debated topic – using a rechargeable electric toothbrush vs a manual toothbrush. There are pros and cons of both types of brushes, but most important is that you’re using a toothbrush to clean your teeth twice per day. Ask anyone in the dentistry field and they’ll tell you how important brushing is for good oral hygiene. But when you have braces, good brushing habits are imperative for healthy teeth and gums.

What the Research Says About Manual Vs Electric Toothbrushes

A study conducted by the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopaedics showed that an electric toothbrush promotes better oral hygiene for those with braces.

The evidence was more pronounced for those patients with poor oral hygiene. When using an electric toothbrush they had significantly lower plaque scores compared to a manual technique. For those patients with good oral hygiene, the differences were neutralized.

A review of several studies of powered toothbrushes versus manual showed an 11% reduction in plaque at one to three months for the powered toothbrushes and a 21% reduction in plaque after three months of use.

Advantages of Electric Toothbrush

Electric toothbrushes can be a little faster than brushing with a manual brush. Braces mean there are lots of nooks and crannies to clean around, and an oscillating electric toothbrush can clean around the brackets and wires quicker than a manual toothbrush.

Most powered brushes have the added advantage of a timer. It’s particularly important to brush your teeth for at least the recommended time because brushing your teeth with braces takes a little more patience. If you brush consistently until the timer ends, you will get a more thorough clean than if you were to do a quick clean with a manual brush.

For those patients who don’t have ideal oral hygiene practices, the research shows they are likely to remove more bacteria and plaque using an electric toothbrush. There’s less effort required in using an electric toothbrush to get the same result.

Electric toothbrushes also agitate the water in the mouth and plaque on teeth in areas where the brusher may not have reached with the bristles. This makes it easier for bacteria to be rinsed away with water.

Disadvantages of Electric Toothbrushes

Cost is the main disadvantage of using an electric toothbrush. There’s the outlay for an electric toothbrush and the new heads can be more expensive than a new manual toothbrush. Moreover brushing around braces does tend to speed up the breakdown of the bristles and make the toothbrush less efficient.

Users of electric toothbrushes also need to remember to recharge their electric toothbrush before it goes flat.

Advantages of a Manual Toothbrush

Manual toothbrushes can be more cost-effective than electric toothbrushes.

A manual toothbrush may be more convenient if you’re going away and don’t want to pack the charger for your electric toothbrush. While the charge lasts several days for most, taking an electric toothbrush on an extended camping trip could be a problem. You could swap to a battery-operated brush or use a manual brush and be vigilant with your brushing.

Disadvantages of a Manual Toothbrush

From the research, it shows manual toothbrushes aren’t the best choice for everyone. To use a manual toothbrush, you should be someone who is vigilant about their oral hygiene. Some teenagers with braces lead busy lives and they think saving a few minutes per day on brushing their teeth is valuable time saved. But this results in increased levels of plaque and bacteria which can cause decay and staining.

Brushing with Braces FAQs

Everyone has a few questions about brushing their teeth when their braces are applied. Here are some of the most common questions.

Will I know how to brush my teeth once my braces are applied?

Yes, a dental therapist/assistant will show you how to brush your teeth on the day we apply your braces. You can also watch YouTube videos on how to brush effectively with braces if you want a more in-depth look or refresher.

Will an electric toothbrush break my braces?

Neither an electric nor manual toothbrush will break your braces as long as you take a little care while brushing. Try not to hit your braces with the plastic back of the toothbrush.

Is an electric toothbrush better than a manual toothbrush?

Depending on the type of brusher you are, there can be differences in the effectiveness. A patient who is particular about brushing all surfaces of their teeth and braces will remove as much bacteria and plaque with either type of brush. But for those patients who rush their brushing, they may get better results with a rechargeable electric toothbrush.

Can you brush your teeth too much with braces?

It’s unlikely you will brush your teeth too much because it’s recommended that you brush after every meal. Brushing and flossing is the most effective way of removing any food or plaque caught between teeth and around the brackets of your braces. There’s no need to use excessive force when brushing your teeth while wearing braces.

We all need regular daily brushing to maintain the health of our gums. Good gum health is extremely important while wearing braces because teeth are being moved within the gums and are more susceptible to gum disease.

What happens if you don’t brush your teeth with braces?

If you don’t regularly brush your teeth with braces, you’re at risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and staining. It’s important to keep your mouth as healthy as possible while you have braces. Daily brushing and visiting your dentist for a professional clean every six months will keep your teeth and gums in good condition.

Teeth Staining

Patients with braces who aren’t cleaning properly may have noticeable white squares on their teeth after we remove their braces. This is because the enamel underneath the glued bracket was protected from the food and drinks consumed while wearing braces.

When teeth aren’t brushed regularly, the unprotected teeth can become stained for life. The only way to improve the staining is to whiten the teeth after we remove the braces, but sometimes the staining is still evident.

How often should I change my toothbrush?

Toothbrushes on average should be changed every three months, however, this is only a guide. Some people need to change their brushes more often than others.

Braces can shorten the life of a toothbrush. The brackets create multiple, rough surfaces that the brush needs to clean, so it’s working harder than it would for teeth without braces.

A good rule of thumb is to change your toothbrush once you notice wear and tear on the bristles. A damaged toothbrush isn’t as effective as a fresh one.

Is it hard to brush your teeth with braces?

It can take a little practice to get used to brushing your teeth when you have braces. However, we’ll give you plenty of information and a demonstration just after we apply your braces.


Always follow the instructions of your Orthodontist when it comes to looking after your teeth and braces. Your orthodontist will monitor your progress at each of your appointments.

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