Brace wearers can really benefit from an electric toothbrush because they make plaque removal easier. This has significant benefits for the gums, which are often irritated when teeth are moved.
The wires and brackets can be tricky to clean around. The electric toothbrush does the hard work for you, making it easier to clean around the key parts of the brace.
"Patients are more likely to clean their teeth for longer because of built-in timers" says our in-house dentist Dr. Gemma Wheeler.
And whilst electric is a good choice for braces, we've also included some manual toothbrush recommendations. Dr. Wheeler explains the evidence and provides further advice in our buyer's guide.
Good travel option: SURI / SURI / ~$160
Oral-B Pro 2 2000
Why it's the best for braces:
The Pro 2 2000 strikes the balance between features and cost. It has the essential features dentists recommend: a timer, a pacer and a pressure sensor.
The timer and pacer help to make sure you brush the entire mouth for the correct amount of time, which is particularly important with braces because of additional plaque buildup. These features are useful for teenagers who may still be in the process of perfecting their brushing technique.
If you brush too hard the visible pressure sensor lights up red to warn you. It's important not to brush braces or your teeth too hard, doing so can be damaging, so this is a feature worth paying for.
You can choose between the standard clean mode or the more gentle sensitive mode. Having a sensitive mode is useful in case you are experiencing any soreness from your braces. There are no icons to let you know which mode is active, but it’s easy enough to distinguish between the two.
The included travel case protects the brush and is big enough to pop in a couple of interdental brushes too.
Read our Oral-B Pro 2 2000 Review.
What we like
What we dislike
Slim handle is easy to hold because of the large grip on the handle
No icons on the handle to show which of the 2 cleaning modes is selected
Included travel case (black coloured model) protects the brush & makes transporting it easier
If not cleaned regularly, toothpaste residue can build up on the contoured grip
Affordable – paying for what you need & not unnecessary extras
Best top of the range, good for travel
Sonicare 9900 Prestige
Why it's good for braces:
Like the Pro 2 2000, the Prestige has the features we recommend for brace wearers: a timer, pacer, pressure sensor and a travel case.
But it's far more expensive, because of its smart toothbrush technology.
The 9900 will tell you when you need to replace a brush head and can monitor how well you are brushing. This means you can make improvements, in real time.
Unless you're someone that's going to make use of this technology day in and day out, we recommend you opt for the cheaper brush.
As a brace wearer, you need to brush more often, for example after lunch. The stylish and compact travel case included with the Prestige allows you to easily transport it.
The rechargeable battery lasts 4 weeks on a single charge, but the brush can be charged inside the travel case, using a USB-C cable. This is the type of cable used to charge many smartphones. So if you leave the house in a rush, you could put your brush in its case, pack a charging cable and find somewhere to charge it if you have let the battery run down.
Read our Sonicare Prestige 9900 Review.
What we like
What we dislike
Premium materials & design
Expensive – you’re paying for non-essential features like Bluetooth
Compact charging travel case included
Lots of smart tech – reminds you when to replace the brush head as well as tracking & monitoring your brushing
Best budget electric
Oral-B Pro 100
A cheap, but reliable choice:
Even though this is a cheap brush, it's still reliable and a good choice if you're on a tight budget. Parents, if you are looking for a brush for your teenager that they can afford to lose, then this is it. Not that we encourage losing toothbrushes, but it easily happens.
It's rare to get a travel case included for such a good value brush. It's invaluable because at times the toothbrush has to travel with you. It protects the bristles and avoids accidental activation.
Use it correctly and you can expect to remove more plaque than a manual toothbrush. However, you don’t get quite the same satisfying deep clean as you do with more expensive models, like our recommendations above.
The small round brush head is very good at cupping each tooth and is easily manoeuvred to different parts of the mouth. Like the Pro 2 2000, the Pro 100 is compatible with Oral-B's Ortho brush head, which is useful for getting into very tight spaces.
Unfortunately, it does lack a pressure sensor and 30 second pacer. This means that there are no alerts when you brush too hard, or when you should move from one quadrant to another. If you're buying for someone that would benefit from these features, it's worth stretching your budget to the Pro 2 2000 if you can.
Read our Oral-B Pro 100 Review.
What we like
What we dislike
Simple to use with just 1 cleaning mode
Missing dentist recommended features – 30 second pacer & pressure sensor
Grippy handle helps ensure a secure hold the brush
Relatively short battery life & no feedback on remaining power
Included travel case can be used to protect the brush
The cleaning action isn’t as good as that on more premium Oral-B brushes
Another good option for travel
Why it's worth considering:
SURI is another toothbrush that comes with a sturdy case that can be used to easily charge the brush on the go.
Like the Prestige, SURI can be charged using a USB-C cable, rather than the proprietary cable that is required for other brushes.
Another plus point for SURI is that it's the most environmentally-considerate electric toothbrush that we've tested to date. You can read more about that in our SURI review.
Like our budget choice above, the downside to SURI is that it doesn't come with a pressure sensor, which we do regard as a useful feature for braces.
What we like
What we dislike
Sturdy travel case with USB-C charging
No pressure sensor to alert you if brushing too hard
Better eco credentials than other brushes
Best manual toothbrush for braces
Despite the benefits and evidence (1,2,3,4) to suggest electric might be better, a manual toothbrush is perfectly adequate for cleaning your braces, when used correctly. There are times when a manual toothbrush might also be more convenient. They are generally slimmer and lighter, which is great for travel. And because they don’t rely on a battery you won’t run out of power.
A concern with all toothbrushes is the environmental impact. Standard plastic toothbrushes are not ideal. Preferably they would be made from recycled plastic and have replaceable heads but few actually exist at this time. We therefore offer two recommendations. A plastic manual brush and a more sustainable metal handled brush with replaceable heads.
There is very limited evidence to recommend one manual toothbrush for braces over another, although it seems crisscross bristles are slightly better according to a study by Naik et al. If neither of the below are a good fit, there are more recommendations in our best manual toothbrush post.
Why we chose it:
The Clic is a premium manual toothbrush. It looks really quite stylish and is available in a number of colours.
The CrissCross bristles help achieve a thorough clean around the brackets and wires of the brace.
The benefit of the Clic is that you replace the brush head only each time, rather than the whole handle. This significantly reduces plastic use. Each time you pull off or push on the head, you get a satisfying ‘clic’ sound.
It is the only manual toothbrush to have a replaceable head and CrissCross bristles. A win for the environment and you get better plaque removal too.
The provided wall mount is great. The handle magnetises to the mount and allows the toothbrush to be neatly tidied away from a countertop.
A similar brush to the Clic that has replaceable heads is the Colgate Infinity, although it doesn't have CrissCross bristles.
What we like
What we dislike
Clinically proven CrissCross bristle pattern for more effective cleaning
Expensive for a manual toothbrush
Feels great to hold thanks to the premium materials & a quality construction
Replaceable brush heads reduces waste
A cheap manual toothbrush option
Oral-B Pro-Health 7 Benefits
Why we chose it:
With soft CrissCross bristles, the Pro-Health gives a really great clean around your braces.
Each bristle tip is rounded for a more gentle brush across the tooth surfaces. ‘Gum stimulators’ on the edge of the head helps promote good gum health whilst longer bristles at the tip of the head reach deeper between the teeth and around brackets and wires.
The handle is grippy and feels comfortable in the hand thanks to the curved shape and appropriately placed rubber grips.
You can flip the brush head over and drag it along the tongue, because there is a tongue cleaner on the back of the head too.
What we like
What we dislike
Soft CrissCross bristles for great cleaning results
Not the most environmentally friendly option for a manual toothbrush
Comfortable rubber grips on the handle
Buyer's guide: useful pre-purchase advice
With the help of dentist Dr. Gemma Wheeler, we've added some advice that is specific to anyone shopping for a toothbrush for braces. If you can't find the information you need please leave a comment below.
These electric toothbrush features are useful for braces
A good electric toothbrush for braces doesn’t need lots of features. The most important are:
- 2 minute timer
- Pressure sensor
- Travel case
One of the cheapest brushes you can buy that has all these features is the Pro 2 2000, which is why we recommend it as the best overall choice.
In some of the sections below, we've included a few more examples of brushes that have these features. You can also use our electric toothbrush reviews page to filter by specific features if you would like to see more options.
2 minute timer
There is agreement among dental organisations and medical bodies that brushing your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes is important. Having a 2 minute timer built into the toothbrush helps encourage you to achieve this. The majority of electric toothbrushes come with this feature as standard, including our best budget pick above.
People with fixed braces should actually aim to brush for 3 minutes. Only brushing for 2 minutes doesn't leave enough time to cover the additional surface area created by having braces.
Some brushes automatically power off once the 2 minutes are up, so it is a case of turning the brush back on to brush for a bit longer. Oral-B models don't automatically turn off, whilst some ‘smart’ models, like the Oclean X Pro Elite allow you to set custom modes where you control the total brushing.
A quadpacer is designed to encourage you to cover the mouth evenly during the 2 minute brushing cycle. Most pacers work by pausing the brush motor at 30 second intervals. The pause in the sound and motion of the toothbrush is your cue to move from 1 section of the mouth to another.
The 4 sections (quadrants) are: upper right, upper left, lower right and lower left. If you spend 30 seconds cleaning each, you will achieve 120 seconds/2 minutes total brushing time.
Most electric brushes come with a quadpacer these days, but it's worth pointing out that our budget pick above, the Pro 100, does not. A couple of the cheapest brushes you can buy that have a quadpacer, are the Sonicare 2100 Series and Oral-B Pro 500.
In a few instances, the pacer is configured differently. Rather than 4 sections, there are 6, known as sextants. The total brushing time is the same, but you spend 20 seconds brushing per sextant. The Prestige is configured this way.
A pressure sensor helps to guard against brushing too hard, which can damage the teeth and gums. It's also not a good idea to brush braces harder than is necessary. The implementation of a pressure sensor varies from one brush to another.
In many instances when pressure is detected, the motor will slow down. This limits the bristle movement and potential damage. A visible pressure sensor will illuminate to act as a visual alert. This is common in Oral-B brushes. Usually, a red light is emitted around the neck of the toothbrush.
Some models, notably Sonicare, will vibrate the brush handle to alert you. Whilst models like the Prestige and the DiamondClean Smart vibrate and illuminate a visible sensor.
The Oral-B iO Series are the first brushes to actually light up green, to show you are using the correct pressure. These brushes typically have higher ownership costs as a result of the selling price and cost of replacement brush heads.
When you are wearing a brace for 12+ months, you will find yourself brushing in different locations. It won’t always be possible to brush your teeth at home. A travel case enables you to take your toothbrush with you and keeps it protected.
The cheapest brush you can buy that includes a travel case is the Oral-B Pro 100.
There are certain models that come with travel cases that allow charging whilst in the case. They do not need to be placed on a separate charging stand. Examples of these include the Oral-B iO, SURI and the Sonicare Prestige 9900.
Oral-B's charging travel cases are functional but less desirable. This is because they require a separate proprietary power adapter. The iO Series 9 and Genius 9000 are 2 examples. The best travel cases use internationally accepted connectors like microUSB and USB type c.
Compact travel cases help reduce bulk and weight when on the go. However, one benefit of bulkier travel cases like those supplied with the Pro 100, 500, 2 2000 is that they have a little space inside that you can use to store accessories such as interdental brushes.
You don't need a special toothbrush for removable braces like Invisalign
All of our recommendations above are perfectly suitable for removable braces like Invisalign. Removable braces can be taken out of the mouth and you should brush your teeth after each meal and before putting the aligners back in. Because they are removable, cleaning the teeth and the brace itself is much easier. You are not restricted by wires, so brushes can pass easily over the teeth. Floss and interdental brushes can easily glide between the teeth.
Many Invisalign patients have attachments (also known as ‘buttons’) fitted to their teeth. These are made of white filling material and help move the teeth. They are not prone to collecting food debris or plaque like conventional brackets are. In fact, you brush just like you would if you had no braces at all. Do remember that you will need to brush and clean the brace itself, following the guidance you have been given.
Oral-B makes an Ortho brush head, but you can get by without it
Oral-B has created a set of heads specifically for fixed braces called the Ortho Care. It's not sold officially in Australia but it's available here on Amazon as an import from the USA.
The idea is to give you a couple of extra ways to clean around braces, and more precise targeting of the brackets. They are not essential. The normal round heads are fine (excluding FlossAction). It's only really worth considering if you're not getting the best plaque and debris removal with a standard set of bristles.
Sonicare does not make an equivalent to the Ortho Care brush heads. All their heads (excluding TongueCare+) are suitable for braces.
Brush head shape and size is worth considering, but not critical
The range of brush heads available across various brands is unnecessarily complicated. Unless you have a particularly small mouth, you don't need to pay too much attention to the type that you choose.
Oral-B has two ranges of brush heads — those that fit the iO Series toothbrushes, and those that fit all of its other brushes. The iO compatible brush heads are a little bigger than other Oral-B heads. They are also more expensive.
Sonicare brush heads, and most heads found on 'sonic' toothbrushes, are more oval shaped and larger than Oral-B's round heads.
If you have a very small mouth or find it difficult to manoeuvre a toothbrush fully around your teeth, it might be best to consider any Oral-B brush that isn't an iO Series model — our main recommendation is the Oral-B Pro 2 2000.
Almost all Oral-B, Colgate and Sonicare brush heads can be used with braces. Just avoid the Oral-B FlossAction head and the Sonicare tongue brush.
Why brushing and flossing is so important for brace wearers
Thorough cleaning is especially important for people undergoing orthodontic treatment. Fixed braces rely on fixed brackets on the tooth surfaces and wires between them to move the teeth. Not only do you need to clean the tooth surfaces and between the teeth, you also need to clean in and around the brackets and wires of the brace.
There is agreement that having braces slightly increases your risk of things like gum disease, tooth decay and halitosis. These conditions are caused by bacteria found in plaque. The brackets stuck to your teeth increase the surface area for plaque to stick to. The brackets, elastics and wires also trap food debris.
More plaque means that you are at higher risk of decay. The early stages of decay can be reversed. This means you don't need fillings. But you could be left with white marks on your teeth when the braces are removed. Good cleaning can prevent this.
By brushing regularly you also reduce the chances of staining on your teeth. Even when you do not wear a brace, some 35-40% of the tooth surface is missed with regular brushing. Interdental cleaning is advised. It reaches in tight gaps between teeth, cleaning areas normal brushing doesn't reach. Failing to remove the bacteria at the gum level, especially in between the teeth, contributes to gum disease.
Unfortunately cleaning between the teeth is not the easiest when you have braces. If the technique is not good enough, the bacteria are not cleaned away, it can lead to irritation of the gums. Left for long enough, this reversible gingivitis can progress to more severe gum disease - periodontitis. The best approach is to use interdental brushes, but water flossers are a much easier product to use.
Is it safe to use an electric toothbrush with braces?
Yes, electric toothbrushes from the leading brands are safe to use with braces.
They will not cause your brackets to detach from the tooth.
The bond between the bracket and the tooth is more than strong enough to withstand an electric toothbrush. The wires and elastics also will not be damaged by an electric toothbrush.
Whether you have fixed metal, incognito, ceramic, clear, invisible, lingual or self-ligating braces, a powered toothbrush can be used with any of these. Electric toothbrushes are also safe to use if you have removable braces, such as Invisalign.
Do dentists recommend an electric toothbrush for braces?
Whilst not everyone needs an electric toothbrush, brace wearers can really benefit from them.
Electric toothbrushes make good plaque removal easier for you to achieve at home. This has significant benefits for the gums, which are often irritated when having teeth moved around with braces.
The wires and brackets can be tricky to clean around. The electric toothbrush can help make brushing around these much easier, by doing the hard work for you.
I have found that patients are more likely to clean their teeth for longer because the timers built into the brushes encourage this.
And because they are proven to remove more plaque they help keep the gums and teeth healthy.