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Regular Toothbrush vs. Electric Toothbrush

Article by Dr. Leaver & Dr. Gardner

If you’re a current braces patient, you already know how important it is to maintain an excellent oral hygiene routine. Brushing and flossing regularly and effectively will not only keep your smile looking great, it can also greatly reduce your chances of developing cavities and gum disease. As an essential part of successful orthodontic treatment, good dental hygiene helps remove the bacteria, residue, and food debris that can lead to a buildup of plaque acids and hardened tartar.

Here at Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics, we know it can sometimes be a bit of a challenge to clean your teeth and gums effectively when you’re wearing braces! The brackets, wires, and bands can trap food particles, and they also create nooks and crannies that may be hard to reach with a regular toothbrush. This increases your risk of bacteria, plaque, and cavities developing. To keep tooth decay at bay, we recommend that all our patients brush twice daily for at least two minutes, and floss every night before bed. While this is a pretty simple habit to cultivate, choosing the best products for braces can sometimes get a little more complicated.

What type of toothbrush should you choose?

Walk down the oral care aisle of any store, and you can easily become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of products on display! You can find toothpaste for sensitive teeth, whitening gels, mouthwashes, flavored floss, manual and electric toothbrushes…the list goes on and on!

Although most of these products are equally effective, when it comes to toothbrushes, those electric versions may actually have a slight edge over manual. This is especially true for orthodontic patients – a study by the American Journal of Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics found that an electric brush could remove a significantly greater amount of plaque than a manual one for patients in braces.

Many of our patients are able to clean their teeth perfectly well with a manual toothbrush, but some really do find it beneficial to use an electric version. If you’re a braces patient who relies on a regular toothbrush in your dental hygiene routine, an electric toothbrush could actually be a better choice for your braces, teeth, and gums. Keep reading below to find out why!

Advantages of an electric toothbrush for braces

Several studies have shown that electric toothbrushes can be more effective than manual brushes at removing plaque. Some of the best models may even be able to remove up to 2x more total plaque, which is pretty significant! There are several factors that give these toothbrushes an edge over their manual counterparts, including:

Deeper cleaning

Electric toothbrushes are designed to drive fluids in between the teeth, so they are better able to get deep down into the various nooks and crannies caused by brackets, wires, and bands. Most models will also tend to produce hundreds or even thousands of movements per minute. You won’t be able to replicate this one your own, no matter how quickly you can brush!

Custom cleaning modes

Many electric toothbrush models have cleaning modes that are customized with a specific purpose in mind. These can include modes for sensitive teeth, whitening, stain removal, and much more.

Ease of use

Cleaning your teeth may seem like an incredibly simple task, so you’d probably be surprised to learn how many people get it wrong! Some rush through the process, while others simply don’t know or understand how to brush and floss properly. But brushing your teeth the right way is a critical component of oral care, and one every orthodontics patient should take seriously. Cavities and gum damage can often be avoided by nothing more than cleaning your mouth thoroughly and regularly. Electric toothbrushes remove the risk of user error by coming equipped with timers, sensors, and multiple modes that take a good deal of guesswork out of brushing.

electric and manual toothbrushes isolated on white background

Electric toothbrush features 

We’ve discussed the many modes of electric toothbrushes above, but they also come in many different styles and offer several different features. These can include:

Battery-powered brushes

Similar in many ways to a manual toothbrush, some electric brushes run on an AA or AAA battery and have a brush head with spinning or pulsating bristles to add a little extra oomph to your brushing technique. Battery-powered toothbrushes are usually the least expensive electric option, and can be very convenient, but the batteries should be replaced as soon as they run out to avoid acid leaks.

Rechargeable toothbrushes

These brushes generally recharge in a base that plugs into a wall outlet, so there are no batteries to replace. These are the electric options that tend to offer the higher-tech options like timers, pressure sensors, and replacement reminders. They may also include a variety of brushing options, like oscillation or vibration.


One of the most common problems we see in patients is not brushing long enough. At least two minutes every time you brush is the standard, but it can be easy to miss this mark. Some electric brushes include timers, which can be really helpful for keeping you on track! Some of timers are even sophisticated enough to keep track of how long you’re meant to brush each quadrant of your mouth.

Pressure sensors

Some rechargeable brushes include a sensor that can track the pressure you put on your teeth and alert you if you’re brushing too hard. This can be an especially helpful feature for anyone suffering from sensitive teeth or weak enamel.

Multiple brush heads

You can change detachable brush heads when the bristles wear out but keep the electric base of your toothbrush. While some bases will only fit one type of brush head, others are compatible with multiple types. 

Various brush settings

There are some electric brushes that offer multiple settings for a more thorough cleaning experience, including:

  • rotary, where the head rotates in only one direction
  • counter-rotational, where the head rotates in various directions
  • rotating-oscillating, which allows different lengths of bristles to rotate in opposite directions
  • oscillating-pulsating, which adds a pulsating motion to the oscillatory motion

Brush your way to a beautiful smile with Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics

No matter what type of product you’re looking for to help care for your braces and your smile, we suggest you look for ones with the American Dental Association seal of approval. Toothbrushes with the ADA seal have been studied and tested for safety and effectiveness, and are guaranteed to perform as promised. Dr. Leaver and Dr. Gardner also recommend replacing your toothbrush or brush head more often when you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment with us. Braces can be hard on the bristles and tend to wear them out more quickly.

Leaver & Gardner Patient

Our team is here to help you achieve not just a straighter smile, but a healthier one, too! That includes keeping your teeth and gums in good shape while you’re wearing braces. We’re always here to discuss any questions or concerns you have about your treatment plan or your overall oral health. If you’d like some suggestions or recommendations on an electric toothbrush for your specific smile, our doctors are happy to help with that, too. Our goal is to provide you with the best orthodontic experience possible on the road to a beautifully straight and healthy smile that will last a lifetime!