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The Best Toothbrush For Braces, Electric & Manual

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Gemma Wheeler

(GDC Number: 259369)

Best electric toothbrush for braces

In this post we cover the various toothbrush options for brace wearers.

We rate the Oral-B Smart 1500 as the best electric toothbrush for braces.

And whilst electric is a good choice for braces, we’ve also listed the best manual options in case that’s what you’re looking for.

Members of our team have undergone orthodontic treatment as teenagers and as adults. We speak from first-hand experience.

Our in-house dentist Dr. Gemma Wheeler explains the evidence and provides advice in our buyer’s guide.

Our recommendations at a glance

Best overall: Oral-B Smart 1500 (AmazonWalmart)

Most features: Sonicare Prestige 9900 (SonicareAmazon)

Best budget: Fairywill D7 / FW-507 (Fairywill, eBay)

Best manual: Oral-B CrossAction All-In-One (Amazon, Walmart)

Eco-friendly: Oral-B Clic (Amazon, Walmart)

In this post

Evidence

Dr. Gemma Wheeler, BDS (Hons)

Best Cordless Water Flosser Rework V2 2

Can you 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.

Can an electric toothbrush replace a manual toothbrush?

Yes.

Studies (1,2,3) show that electric toothbrushes are better at removing plaque. They make it easier to completely remove plaque.

Plaque contains the bacteria that cause dental decay and gum disease.

That being said, a manual toothbrush is adequate if used correctly, and better for the environment.

Buying Advice

Useful things to know before buying

Below are the three main bits of advice we would give to someone considering a new electric toothbrush.

1. You don’t need to buy an expensive toothbrush

Spending more on a toothbrush doesn’t necessarily mean you are getting a better product. Often you are paying for extra features and functions you will not use. An expensive toothbrush does not clean the teeth better. Many of the best electric toothbrushes come in at under $100.

2. Smart toothbrushes are generally not worth it

They can help to encourage better technique and habit formation, but they are not more effective at cleaning your teeth.

3. Routine and technique are important

Your toothbrushing technique and routine have more impact on your oral health than the toothbrush itself. It’s no use having the best electric toothbrush if you don’t use it properly.

What to look for in an electric toothbrush

Toothbrushes can come with all manner of features at different prices.

From our testing, the most essential features to look for in an electric toothbrush are:

2 minute timer

A timer helps to ensure that you brush your teeth for 2 minutes each time, which is recommended by dentist and governing bodies around the world.

Pacer

A pacer helps you to spread your brushing time evenly across all parts of the mouth.

Pressure sensor

Frequently brushing too hard will severely damage your teeth. A pressure sensor alerts you when you are brushing too hard so you can adjust your technique.

How we chose

Our selection process

Our team is made up of dental professionals and experienced product testers.  We specialize in oral health and abide by a strong code of ethics

We buy and test every product we recommend.  In most instances, we have detailed written and video reviews for each product.

We consult the clinical evidence, the feedback from consumers and industry leaders.

Together, we ensure our recommendations include only the very best choices.

We regularly review our recommendations based on newly released products and clinical evidence.

More on how we test products >>

Best electric toothbrush for braces 2021 — our recommendations

In the sections below we go into detail about the brushes we have tested and explain our recommendations.

Dr. Gemma Wheeler answers common pre-purchase questions and explains the evidence for electric toothbrushes.

Best Overall

Oral-B Smart 1500

$96.00 From Walmart*

*Prices correct at time of writing

Why we chose it: 

The Smart 1500 has the key features we recommend for an electric toothbrush.

The small round brush head cleans the teeth well. It is easy to maneuver into some of the tightest spots in the mouth. If you brush too hard the visible pressure sensor lights up red to warn you. 

You can choose between the standard clean mode, a more gentle sensitive mode or a whitening mode. There are no icons to let you know which mode is active, but it’s easy enough to distinguish between the two.

This slim handled brush does not feel quite as secure in hand as some models. It doesn’t have lots of rubber grips. The benefit is that it’s easier to keep clean.

The Smart 1500 has been independently approved by the American Dental Association, which means it is safe to use, and that it has the benefits advertised.

It’s worth noting that despite the name, this is not a ‘smart’ toothbrush. It has no bluetooth connectivity.

If you prefer Philips Sonicare, the ProtectiveClean 4100 is equivalent to the Smart 1500.

What we like

  • Timer and pacer encourage brushing for the recommended time
  • Slim, grippy handle
  • Visible pressure sensor – alerts you when brushing too hard
  • 2 weeks use on a single charge
  • Affordable

What we dislike

  • No icons on the handle to show which cleaning mode is selected
  • Limited feedback on remaining battery power
Oral-B Smart 1500 Electric Toothbrush in Hand

Most Features

Sonicare 9900 Prestige

$349.95 From Sonicare*

*Prices correct at time of writing

Why we chose it: 

The importance of good oral care is increased when wearing braces.  If you need help and motivation to create a good habit, the Sonicare 9900 Prestige can really help.

It tracks the exact position of the toothbrush. It shows and records how much pressure you used, as well as other data about how you brushed.  All of this is presented in clear charts and visuals that you can learn from.

It is, without a doubt, the best smart toothbrush on the market today. But this is an expensive option and has more features than you need. 

It looks fantastic and feels great in hand.  The smooth touch materials are good quality and easy to keep clean.

The A3 brush head included with the Prestige gives a really thorough clean and is compatible with braces. The smart tracking of the brush head means you will be notified as soon as it needs replacement.

The included compact USB-C enabled charging case is every bit as stylish as the toothbrush itself. 

One downside is that the power and intensity buttons do require a firm push. They don’t give a lot of tactical feedback.

What we like

  • Timer and pacer encourage brushing for the recommended time
  • Visible pressure sensor alerts you when brushing too hard
  • 4 weeks use on a single charge
  • Premium charging travel case included
  • Premium materials & design
  • Reminds you when to replace the brush head
  • Tracks & monitors your brushing

What we dislike

  • Expensive
  • No place to store the detachable USB cable
  • Bluetooth isn’t essential
Prestige 9900 under running water

Best budget

Fairywill D7 / FW-507

The Best Toothbrush For Braces, Electric & Manual 1

~$27.99 on Fairywill*

~$25.99 on eBay*

*Prices correct at time of writing

15% discount available from Fairywill using code ELECTRICTEETH (when no other offers are running)

Why we chose it: 

The 507 has the essential features we look for in an electric toothbrush and more. It is one of the best value options on the market today.

It is a slim and lightweight toothbrush that lasts an impressive 30 days on a full charge.

The sonic cleaning action doesn’t feel quite as intense as a Sonicare toothbrush, but it still cleans the teeth well.

It has been awarded the American Dental Association ‘Seal of Acceptance’. This means that the toothbrush has been assessed by an independent panel of experts. It has been confirmed as safe and that it has the benefits it says it does.

The compromises are the material quality and 1 year warranty. It feels cheaper and more plasticy in hand, but it is perfectly functional.

What we like

  • Timer and pacer encourage brushing for the recommended time
  • Travel case included
  • Long battery life
  • Lightweight
  • Value for money

What we dislike

  • Build quality isn’t as good
  • Only has a 1 year warranty
Fairywill FW-507

Best manual toothbrush for braces

Despite the benefits and evidence 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.

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.

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 2 recommendations.  A plastic manual brush and a more sustainable metal handled brush, with replaceable heads.

Neither of our recommendations come with a travel case or bristle cover included.  You might want to consider investing in these to protect your toothbrush if you need to take it with you. 

Best manual

Oral-B CrossAction All-In-One

$8.97 From Walmart*

*Prices correct at time of writing

Why we chose it: 

With soft CrissCross bristles, the CrossAction All-In-One 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

  • Soft CrissCross bristles
  • Comfortable rubber grips on the handle

What we dislike

  • Not the most environmentally friendly option for a manual toothbrush

Eco-friendly choice

Oral-B Clic

~$9.55 From Walmart*

*Prices correct at time of writing

Why we chose it: 

The Clic is a premium manual toothbrush. It looks really quite stylish and is available in a number of colors.

The CrissCross bristles help achieve a thorough clean around the brackets and wires of the brace. 

The benefit with 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. And the heads can be recycled

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 magnetizes to the mount and allows the toothbrush to be neatly tidied away, off a countertop.

What we like

  • CrissCross bristles
  • Quality construction
  • Replaceable brush heads
  • Available in a range of colors
  • Magnetic wall mount

What we dislike

  • Expensive for a manual toothbrush

Our choices explained

There are many great electric toothbrushes available today.  The vast majority are suitable options for brace wearers.

But we have narrowed down the options to the choices you see listed above, and will now explain why we have chosen them.

Our top pick, the Smart 1500 from Oral-B strikes the balance between features and cost.  Plus, as it is manufactured by a leading brand, it is backed by clinical evidence. It is recommended by dental professionals worldwide. For us, the Smart 1500  is the best Oral-B toothbrush for braces.

The small round brush head is easy to move around the mouth and get in and around the metal brackets and wires.  Oral-B’s specialist ‘ortho’ brush head is compatible with it too, although the more standard CrossAction or Sensi UltraThin heads also work fine.

Oral-B Smart 1500 Toothbrush
The small brush head on the Oral-B Smart 1500 is easy to move around the mouth.

The rubber grip around the power button and the textured surface on the back of the hand means it is fairly grippy in hand. It doesn’t feel quite as secure in hand as some other Oral-B models that have a rubber grip running down the front of the handle.  The benefit though is that the Smart 1500 is easier to keep clean.

The built-in timer and pacer encourage you to brush for the right amount of time, evenly across the mouth. 

The pressure sensor (which wraps a full 360 degrees around the handle) alerts you if you are brushing too hard, which is a cause of gum recession.

Whilst a travel case is by no means an essential accessory, it is nice to have.  

Having worn braces ourselves we know what it is like. There are going to be times when you need to brush your teeth in unfamiliar locations.  For example, days out with friends and family.  You will end up brushing your teeth in the bathroom of a theme park, museum or restaurant.

Many people find themselves having to brush at school, college, university or at work.

You need to take your toothbrush with you to do this.  A travel case is very useful to keep your brush protected in transport.  It can also prevent accidental activation.  Some cases even have enough space inside to store interdental brushes.

Unfortunately, our top pick, the Smart 1500 doesn’t come with one. You might want to buy one separately.

The best Sonicare toothbrush for braces, the ProtectiveClean 4100 doesn’t come with a case either.  Nonetheless, it has all the essential features of an electric toothbrush and is comparable to the Smart 1500.

We get lots of people asking for the best brush irrespective of price.  The Sonicare 9900 Prestige is our choice here.  It is expensive because of the smart technology it has.

Midnight Blue Prestige Toothbrush in hand
The Prestige 9900 is the very best you can buy, but it is very expensive

The idea of its smart features is to help encourage better and more regular brushing habits. It comes at a price, though. We don’t recommend smart toothbrushes as our top pick because they come with more features than the average user needs. 

Sensors in the brush handle track and record the position and motion of the toothbrush. The accompanying app then provides coverage maps for brushing, scrubbing and pressure.

This data is displayed as informative visuals within the app. They have bold colors and the charts are well thought out. It allows you to easily identify and learn what needs improving. 

But it can be a bit overwhelming. Our enthusiasm for checking the app waned after a few days of use. To make the most of the smart features you need to take your smartphone into the bathroom each time you brush, which isn’t for everyone. 

The Prestige has been somewhat simplified compared to most other smart brushes, though. It does not feel as complicated to use.  The graphics and menus are less confusing and you get more meaningful and actionable information more quickly than some other brushes and apps.

If you are brushing your teeth more frequently as a result of wearing a brace, the brush head will wear down and need replacing quicker. The 9900 alerts you via the handle when it is time to replace the brush head. This is a neat feature, but not essential. It’s simple enough to judge for yourself when a brush head needs replacing. 

The travel case that comes with the 9900 is slim and stylish. You can even charge the toothbrush inside it, via the USB Type-C connector. Again, these are nice features but far from essential. 

Oral-B’s equivalent to the 9900 is the iO. It offers similar features and achieves a similar end result. 

If your preference is Oral-B, the iO is the most feature rich model they offer.  It isn’t as refined as the 9900, but it offers some unique elements. These include a color display and sensor that confirms when you are using the correct pressure. We compare them to one another in our Oral-B iO vs Sonicare Prestige 9900 comparison.

There is little difference between them, but the Prestige just edges the Oral-B iO in our opinion.

Sonicare 9900 Prestige vs Oral-B iO
The iO is Oral-B’s equivalent to the Sonicare Prestige

Our final option is the FW-507 from Fairywill.

This does pack a punch for the price.  

It is cheaper to buy than the Smart 1500 and comes with more brush heads included in the box.  This brings down the total you will spend on the brush and heads over its lifetime.

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.

The brush looks and feels more basic.  This and the 1 year warranty are the compromises here.

The sonic cleaning action is more than good enough. Although there have not been any clinical tests for this brush so that is our opinion from hands-on testing.

The Fairywill brush is slim and lightweight.

A month’s use is possible from the rechargeable battery and you have no less than 5 cleaning modes.  Even the most demanding user is catered for here.

The Fairywill FW-507 in its travel case
The Fairywill FW-507 in its travel case

Other electric toothbrushes we have tested

Narrowing down our choices is by no means easy.  We have tested lots of different toothbrushes to come to the conclusions we have.

The following gives more insight about other options. 

The Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100 could so easily become our top choice.

It is the Sonicare equivalent to the Smart 1500. It is a well made toothbrush with the essential features you need, and the battery life is great. 

The downside is that the lifetime ownership works out to be more expensive.  This is because of the smart brush heads it uses.

Given the price and the fact that it doesn’t clean the teeth any better it is hard to justify it as a better pick than the Oral-B.  

ProtectiveClean 4300 electric toothbrush
The ProtectiveClean 4100 is a strong contender for the best overall brush, but it’s more expensive than the Pro 2 2500

Quip is arguably a really great option for brace wearers because it comes with a case as part of the package.  The brush is lovely and stylish, slim and lightweight.  But, it does not have a pressure sensor and the cleaning action feels a bit weak.

We rate Burst Oral Care as the USA’s best toothbrush subscription toothbrush.  You can buy it outright or subscribe. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a pressure sensor either.  Nor does it come with a case.  But, Burst does offer this as an affordable accessory.  It is actually really good value. The charcoal bristles are a little overrated, but it has been proven to perform well. 

Battery powered toothbrushes such as Gleem and Philips One by Sonicare are neat, compact options that come with a travel case.  But, they lack the pressure sensor and the cleaning power is again a little weak compared to traditional electric toothbrushes.

We don’t typically recommend smart toothbrushes, yet despite not having a pressure sensor, the hum by Colgate deserves some praise.  

The cleaning power is a bit weak, but the smartphone application and real-time tracking is fantastic.  

It isn’t quite as refined as the 9900 Prestige, but for the money it really delivers. It’s a quarter of the price of the Sonicare. You can even earn monetary rewards by brushing regularly, something you should be doing anyway!

In hand shot of hum by Colgate
The hum by Colgate deserves some praise

The hum by Colgate essentially replaced the Colgate Connect E1. This was made in partnership with Kolibree. It was the first toothbrush to be stocked in Apple stores.  But, much of what we know and love about Colgate has been lost and the software experience is substandard.  It simply isn’t a great brush for daily use.  A little more work on the software would have resulted in significant improvements.

Many brushes are now smart whether you want them to be or not.  

The ExpertClean from Sonicare is another example.  It does not have the position detection and tracking facilities like the 9900 Prestige, DiamondClean Smart or older  FlexCare Platinum.  If the app is used in real-time, you get an on-screen timer only.  Data is synced post brushing. It is displayed on the screen in the form of colored charts.  This data shows performance for the last 7 days only.  It doesn’t allow brushing history and learning as you might expect.

The Oral-B iO is the equivalent of the Prestige 9900 from Sonicare. It is one of the best smart toothbrushes on the market.  

We like the pressure sensor that lights up green when applying the right amount of pressure.  The color screen looks cool, and the smiley face reactions are neat. But, it doesn’t really do as much as you would think it might.

Like many smart toothbrushes, it is a bit of an overkill. It has more features than you need to be able to do a good job of cleaning the teeth.

If you want something that looks, feels and performs like a premium brush check out the Oclean X Pro Elite, which given its features, doesn’t come with such a hefty price tag. 

This brush cleans the teeth well. It has a color touchscreen display built into the handle. It is pretty cool to look at. 

Unlike the iO, it does give feedback on your brushing.  It actually has an image of your teeth on the screen with a score.  It rates your brushing.

In the box, you get a magnetic wall mount, which is neat.  It comes in a few color choices and it is affordable. It is the quietest electric toothbrush that we have ever tested, by quite some margin. 

Brushing teeth with X Pro Elite from Oclean
The Oclean X Pro Elite is the quietest electric toothbrush we have tested

Neither Oral-B nor Sonicare have created an electric toothbrush specifically for braces.  This is because all of their brush heads are compatible with braces. The only real exception being the Oral-B FlossAction head.  

Oral-B does have a specialist ortho brush head, which is designed for braces.  But, it is not essential nor does it come in the box with any Oral-B brushes as standard.

Both Oral-B and Sonicare offer some great budget toothbrushes, such as the Vitality, Pro 500, DailyClean and Essence.  Each has their pros and cons and are more than satisfactory. But, they all miss out on the pressure sensor our dentists feel is so very important.

If you are happy to forgo this feature, you certainly open yourself up to more choices.

You can consider brands like AquaSonic. Their range has increased over the years to include the Black Series and now the Vibe.  They pack a punch for the price. Coming with multiple brush heads in the box, as well as a travel case. They have also been approved by the American Dental Association.

Fairywill suit those on a budget. They have constantly over-delivered.  A month is the minimum you will get from their brushes.  The E11 is one such example. When the battery does need recharging, you use the detachable USB cable.  This is compact and convenient for some.  The drawback here is the design of the cable and the position of the charging port on the base. Otherwise, the brush is lightweight and comes with 8 brush heads included in the box. Based on value for money alone, it is simply sensational.

To achieve good oral health, irrespective of the model, you need to use the brush correctly.  Technique and brushing time is key to good oral health.

Mouthpiece style toothbrushes like AutoBrush are trying to help with this.  They have a brush head that positions the bristles at the perfect 45 degree angle.  But it tries to clean all the tooth surfaces at the same time.  Conceptually it is a great idea.  However, in practice, it really does not work that well.  It fails to reach all the tooth and gum surfaces, leaving lots of plaque behind. We do not recommend them. 

Particularly as a brace wearer you want to avoid these!  Don’t be tempted by the marketing message of cleaning your teeth quicker.  They are not good enough to replace a normal toothbrush yet.

Unobrush Toothbrush In Hand
We don’t recommend mouthpiece toothbrushes

Buyer’s Guide

Useful pre-purchase advice

Dr. Gemma Wheeler, BDS (Hons)

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With the help of our in-house dentist Dr. Gemma Wheeler, we’ve added useful notes and tips from our research and testing.

No doubt you’ll have one or two particular questions before buying, as did we.

Browse the sections below, and if you can’t find the information you need, please leave a comment at the bottom of this page and we’ll get back to you.

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.

Sadly, 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 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 and 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. Take a look at our best water flossers for braces article, as one of these could be a great accompanying product to an electric toothbrush.

Key tips for looking after teeth with braces

The most important thing is to create a regular cleaning habit, following the steps below.

Doing so will have the biggest impact, more than the actual toothbrush you choose.

  • Brush your teeth after every meal with a fluoride toothpaste (or at least twice a day)
  • Brush for at least 2 minutes each time
  • Use the correct brushing technique. Angle the brush at 45 degrees towards the gum line, and also around the brackets.
  • Spit after brushing, don’t rinse with mouthwash or water
  • Clean between the teeth and around the braces before each brushing session, with floss, water flosser, or interdental brushes

Is there such a thing as an ‘orthodontic electric toothbrush’?

No, there is no electric toothbrush specifically for people with braces. 

Oral-B makes a brush head designed for braces – the Ortho head (view it here on Amazon) — we talk about in more detail below.

There is no evidence to suggest that any type of electric toothbrush is not suitable for someone with braces.

Do you need a special toothbrush for removable braces (Invisalign)?

No, you do not need a specific toothbrush if you wear a removable aligner system, like Invisalign.

Our recommendations above are perfectly suitable for 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. 

Those brushes that work for fixed braces do also work for those with removable braces too. There is no reason to recommend a specific toothbrush for those who wear removable braces.

Do remember that you will need to brush and clean the brace itself, following the guidance you have been given.

What are the pros and cons of an electric toothbrush?

We have already explained the evidence about how an electric toothbrush can improve your dental health. We have explained why they can replace a manual toothbrush.

But what are the other pros and cons of using an electric toothbrush? This list is a combination of evidence we have already discussed and the professional experience of our in house dentists.

ProsCons
Less technique sensitiveMore expensive than a manual toothbrush
Remove more plaque Need a power supply to recharge (or access to new batteries)
Easier if you have limited hand movementsNeed to buy matching replacement brush heads
Easier for people with bracesNot as travel friendly because they are bigger and can turn on in transit
More likely to brush for 2 minutesMore susceptible to damage
Tracking technology guides you in real-time to ensure you cover all teethSome people don’t like the intensity and sensation of the cleaning action they provide
Bluetooth technology teaches better habits and help track brushing progressNegative impact on the environment
Gadgets and apps give brushing reminders every dayNeed to be disposed of as electrical waste
Smart toothbrush heads give digital reminders to replace your brush head.
Variety of modes can adapt for sore teeth and gums
Pressure sensors prevent brushing too hard and potentially damaging teeth and gums

What makes a good electric toothbrush for braces?

A good electric toothbrush doesn’t need lots of features.

The most important are:

  • 2 minute timer
  • Pacer/quadpacer (20/30 seconds)
  • Pressure sensor

Together they encourage you to brush your teeth evenly and for the dentist recommended 2 minutes. It also prevents too much force being applied.

Lots of other features exist, but they don’t actually result in a better clean of the teeth.

These features are no different than what we recommend for non-brace wearers.

If we did have to pick one other important feature it would be a travel case.

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. The case allows you to take your toothbrush with you.  It keeps it protected. And it keeps any toothpaste and water residue getting onto other items.

In the sections below we say a bit more about each feature and why it’s important.

2 minute timer

We cannot stress the importance of a timer enough.

Dentists, hygienists and governing dental bodies around the world are in unison that brushing your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes is important.

When brushing your teeth, it is easy to get distracted and misjudge time. You can think you have been brushing for longer than you have.

A timer keeps track of how long the toothbrush has been switched on for.

At the end of 2 minutes (120) seconds, the toothbrush will power off or briefly pause the brush motor.

If the timer hasn’t gone off, you haven’t brushed for long enough.

As you are wearing fixed braces, you need to brush for longer though. You should to be aiming for at least 3.  You won’t be able to properly clean the teeth and the brace in 2 minutes.  This is because of the additional surface area created by having braces.

There isn’t a way to adapt the timer in most toothbrushes. Some ‘smart’ models, like the Oclean X Pro Elite allow you to set custom modes.

Quadpacer

2 minutes spent cleaning your front or back teeth is no good.  To maintain good oral hygiene you need to clean all the teeth.

A pacer is linked to the 2 minute timer.  

It is designed to encourage you to brush the teeth in 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.

Imagine your mouth split up into 4 sections:

  1. Upper right
  2. Upper left
  3. Lower right
  4. Lower left

Spend 30 seconds cleaning the surfaces of the teeth in each quadrant. By the end of the 2 minute cleaning cycle all teeth will have had equal attention.

Some brushes (notably Sonicare) have a pacer set to 20 second intervals.  This results in 6 sections of the mouth. They are as follows: 

  1. Upper right back teeth
  2. Upper front teeth
  3. Upper left back teeth
  4. Lower left back teeth
  5. Lower front teeth
  6. Lower right back teeth

Pressure sensor

We believe a pressure sensor is an underrated feature, particularly for a first time user.

Brushing too hard can damage the gums. Bristles of the brush need only skim the surface of the teeth and gums.

Brushing too hard will also wear away the outermost surface of the tooth. This is what dentists call abrasion. Abrasion itself can cause sensitivity to hot and cold.

Scrubbing harder is not an effective way to remove plaque and debris from the teeth. You and many others may not have known this, because you have never been told or shown how to brush correctly.

A pressure sensor alerts you when you are applying too much force as you brush.

It is a gentle reminder to use a little less force and help you maintain a healthy smile.

Sensors are implemented differently.  

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.

Avoid activating the pressure sensor if you can.

Once the pressure is relieved, the sensor is deactivated and normal brushing resumes.

Travel case

A travel case is something most brace wearers will require at some point.

Even if you are not traveling overseas, or to different parts of the country. You won’t always be able to brush at home.  This means you need something to put your toothbrush in.

The case reduces the likelihood of damage, particularly to the bristles on the brush head.

Any excess moisture and toothpaste remains in the case and not on anything else that might be in your bag too.

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.

An explanation of the different brush heads

The brush heads available vary depending on the brand of toothbrush and the model that you choose.

Oral-B, Sonicare and Colgate all offer a range of different types of brush heads.

Each head is, in theory, designed to do a different job.

Oral-B has actually created a head specifically for fixed braces.  The Ortho/Ortho Care brush has inner bristles that focus on the brackets. There is then a ring free of bristles. On the edge of the head is an outer ring of bristles that focus on the exposed tooth surface, gumline and in between teeth.

Despite being designed for braces, you don’t have to use it. There is no evidence to support using this brush over a regular brush. Regular heads are compatible with braces.

Sonic brush heads tend to be larger than the small round brush heads found on oscillating-rotating toothbrushes. Sonic heads have an oval shape to them.

The ranges are unnecessarily complicated. There is no definitive evidence to say one head is better than another.

It is best to pick and stick to one style of brush head and use it, rather than worry about the particular type.

Almost all Oral-B, Colgate and Sonicare brush heads can be used with braces. Just avoid Oral-B’s FlossAction head and Sonicares’ tongue brush.

We have dedicated brush head guides available for:

The cost of replacement brush heads contributes to the overall price

The cost of replacement heads affects the long term ownership cost.  It is worth factoring this into your purchasing decision.

When wearing braces, you will also go through more brush heads in a year, compared to a typical user.

Where normally you would replace every 3 months, when wearing a brace you will need to replace every 4-6 weeks.  The extra brushing sessions wear the bristles out sooner.

You will need about 8-9 brush heads per year compared to the normal 4.

Of course, this only applies whilst wearing the brace.  Once it comes off, you will be back to replacing the head every 3 months.  

Official brush heads cost anywhere from about $5-10+ per brush head. This can be a lot of money when they will only be thrown away 3 months later. 

You can save money by buying when there’s a deal on or by buying in bulk.

In most instances, you have the choice of opting for a third party brush heads. There may not be the same range and the quality may be different. But there are some great options at very good prices.

Do be aware of fakes/counterfeit brush heads which pose as genuine but are often not the real deal. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is.

How to use an electric toothbrush with braces

The technique for tooth brushing is different for manual and electric toothbrushes.

And when you add a brace into the equation, the technique differs again.

If you have a fixed brace, then check out the following video which demonstrates how to effectively clean the teeth and the brace itself.

Brushing Your Teeth with Braces

If you are wearing a removable brace, such as Invisalign, you can use the same brushing technique on your teeth as if you didn’t have braces on at all.

We have a detailed guide available, showing you how to brush your teeth with braces.

You may prefer the following video demonstrating the technique for you to follow:

How To Use An Electric Toothbrush

Of course, you will still need to clean your clear aligner.  Follow the instructions given by your dentist.

How does dental association approval work?

There are many dental bodies and organizations around the globe.

In fact, each country will usually have a  panel of leading experts. They usually guide oral health within that country. 

These organizations have similar goals and approaches. For example, producing advice for the general public on how to look after their teeth and gums. Or the recommended fluoride doses.

People look to these for advice on what products they should and should not be using.

The American Dental Association (USA) and the Oral Health Foundation (UK) are 2 examples.

Each has programmes that verify the safety and effectiveness of consumer products.

Consumer oral health care products are independently evaluated. This is to ensure they are safe and that the claims made are proven and not exaggerated.  Reliable scientific evidence is usually required. 

The programmes are designed to give consumers peace of mind and reassurance.

Each programme is run independently.  A manufacturer must apply and submit the relevant data to each organization. Only once this process has been completed will a product be awarded the ‘approved’ status of the relevant body.

The ADA issues a ‘Seal of Acceptance’. The Oral Health Foundation labels products as ‘Approved’.

Although they are separate programmes, they operate with similar policies.  A product awarded the ADA seal would likely be approved by the Oral Health Foundation.

Warranty & Guarantee

2 years (24 months) tends to be the standard warranty period from the manufacturers.

Products that stop working as a result of poor workmanship or failure of parts are covered.

Manufacturer warranties do not cover damage and faults that are a result of user damage.

Some brands do offer warranty extensions of anywhere between 3-12 months.  These are usually promoted at the time of sale, or in the box. 

If the brush does develop a fault, you can send the brush in for a free of charge for assessment and repair or replacement as necessary.

About Jon Love

Jon is a leading voice on electric toothbrushes and has been quoted by mainstream media publications for his opinions and expertise.

Having handled & tested hundreds of products there really is very little he does not know about them.

Passionate about business and helping others, Jon has been involved in various online enterprises since the early 2000s.

After spending 12 years in consumer technology, it was in 2014 that he focused his attention on dental health, having experienced first-hand the challenge of choosing a new toothbrush.

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2 thoughts on “The Best Toothbrush For Braces, Electric & Manual”

    • You can use the Oral-B Vitality with braces, however you might want to consider the ortho care brush head as an option when using the vitality brush head.

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