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Medically Reviewed
Published: February 7, 2024

The best toothbrush for braces, electric & manual

Author: Jon Love (2 Comments)
Medical reviewer: Dr Gemma Wheeler, BDS
Best electric toothbrush for braces

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.

Our recommendations

Best overall electric: Oral-B iO4 / Amazon, Oral B / ~$92.22

Best budget electric: Oral-B Pro 500 / Amazon, Oral B / ~$34.97

Top of the range electric: Sonicare 9900 Prestige / Amazon, Philips / ~$355

Good travel option: SURI / SURI, eBay / ~$99

Eco-friendly manual: Oral-B Clic / Oral-B, Amazon / ~$

Cheap manual: Oral-B CrossAction All-In-One / Amazon, Walmart / ~$11.97

Best electric toothbrush for braces

Oral-B iO4

Oral-B iO Series 4 (iO4)
Oral-B iO Series 4 (iO4)
The best toothbrush for braces, electric & manual 1 The best toothbrush for braces, electric & manual 1 The best toothbrush for braces, electric & manual 1 The best toothbrush for braces, electric & manual 1

Why it's the best for braces:

The Oral-B iO4 strikes the balance between features and cost. It has the essential features dentists recommend: a timer, a pacer and a pressure sensor. It also includes a travel case, which is useful for braces as you're more likely to need to take your brush out and about with you.

More on why we recommend it

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.

The small round brush head is easy to move around the mouth and get in and around the metal brackets and wires.

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.

The iO4 includes a sensitive mode, which is useful if you are experiencing any soreness from your braces.

Read our Oral-B iO4 review.

What we liked

Worth noting


Visible pressure sensor – alerts you when you are brushing with the correct & incorrect force


No icons on the handle to show which cleaning mode is selected


Affordable – paying for what you need & not unnecessary extras


iO specific heads are required which are more expensive

iO Series 4 with travel case
The iO4 strikes the right balance between features and cost. Its sensitive mode is good for braces.

Best budget electric

Oral-B Pro 500

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.

More on why we recommend it

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. The Pro 500 is compatible with the Oral-B Ortho brush head, which is useful for getting into very tight spaces.

Unfortunately, it does lack a pressure sensor, which means that there are no alerts when you brush too hard. If you're buying for someone that would benefit from this feature, it's worth stretching your budget to the iO4 if you can.

Read our Oral-B Pro 500 Review.

What we liked

Worth noting


Easy to use single cleaning mode


No pressure sensor


The grip on the handle helps to securely hold the brush


No battery status feedback


The timer and pacer encourage brushing for the recommended time

Oral-B Pro 500 Full Height Shot
Despite its low price tag, the 500 is a reliable brush that can clean the teeth well. It just lacks some key features

Top of the range

Sonicare 9900 Prestige

Philips Sonicare DiamondClean 9900 Prestige
Philips Sonicare DiamondClean 9900 Prestige
The best toothbrush for braces, electric & manual 1 The best toothbrush for braces, electric & manual 1 The best toothbrush for braces, electric & manual 1 The best toothbrush for braces, electric & manual 1 The best toothbrush for braces, electric & manual 1

Why it's good for braces:

Like the iO4, 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 and only worth buying if you're really going to make maximum use of it.

More on what we like about it

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.

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 liked

Worth noting


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

Prestige 9900 under running water
The 9900 is a fantastic brush but not worth paying for unless you will make good use of its technology

Good 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.

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.

Read our SURI Toothbrush Review.

What we liked

Worth noting


Sturdy travel case with USB-C charging


No pressure sensor to alert you if brushing too hard


Better eco credentials than other brushes

The best toothbrush for braces, electric & manual 19
SURI's travel case is the best we've used

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.

Eco-friendly choice

Oral-B Clic

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 to clean around the brackets and wires of the brace. 

More on why we recommend it

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 ‘click’ 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 from a countertop.

What we liked

Worth noting


Criss cross bristles


Expensive for a manual toothbrush


Replaceable brush heads


Magnetic wall mount

Cheap manual toothbrush option

Oral-B CrossAction All-In-One

Oral-B CrossAction All In One Toothbrush
Oral-B CrossAction All In One Toothbrush

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 liked

Worth noting


Soft CrissCross bristles


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
  • Quadpacer
  • Pressure sensor
  • Travel case

One of the cheapest brushes you can buy that has all these features is the Oral-B iO4, 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, including our budget recommendation, the 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.

Pressure sensor

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.

Oral-B's Pro 1000 is supposed to have a pressure sensor, but we don't rate it highly. There is no visual alert and it's nigh on impossible to detect the change in sound from the loud motor.

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. 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 iO Series 4. There are variants of the iO3 and Sonicare 4000 Series with a case included, but they are not widely stocked.

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 X 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 iO4 and Pro 500 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 is available here from Walmart or here from Amazon.

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.

The Ortho Care brush heads are not compatible with Oral-B iO Series handles. They do work with our budget pick above, the Pro 500, and another brush we strongly recommend, the Oral-B Smart 1500.

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 here is the Oral-B Smart 1500.

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.

Author: Jon Love
Medical reviewer: Dr Gemma Wheeler, BDS
  1. Naik et al. Effectiveness of Different Bristle Designs of Toothbrushes and Periodontal Status among Fixed Orthodontic Patients: A Double-blind Crossover Design. The Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice, 2018.
  2. Pithon et al. Effectiveness of different mechanical bacterial plaque removal methods in patients with fixed orthodontic appliance: a systematic review/meta-analysis. Bioscience Journal, 2017.
  3. R Niederman Moderate quality evidence finds statistical benefit in oral health for powered over manual toothbrushes. National Library of Medicine, 2014.
  4. Yaacob et al. Powered versus manual toothbrushing for oral health. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2014.
  5. Pitchika et al. Long-term impact of powered toothbrush on oral health: 11-year cohort study. Journal of Clinical Periodontology, 2019.
  6. Thomassen et al. The efficacy of powered toothbrushes: A systematic review and network meta-analysis.International Journal of Dental Hygiene, 2021.

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Leave a comment

May 30, 2019

can I use oral b vitality cross action with braces?

Jon Love - Chief tester
May 31, 2019

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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