Got braces? Then you need to brush. A lot! But, do you go for the cheap dollar toothbrushes? You’re just going to tear them apart on your braces anyways. And you got haul 1 or 2 around with you. Or do you go for the better brushes? Do you go all out and get an electric toothbrush for your braces *?
Really, What is the Best Toothbrush for Braces?
Let’s take a good look at the best tooth brushes for braces in 2015! We’re going to break down the good, the bad, and the ugly, plus the expensive and cheap. We want you fully informed!
To help us out and those future brace wearers, what brush did you use when you (or your parents and siblings) use braces?
How To Keep Your Teeth Clean With Braces?
First, ask yourself, do you need a special toothbrush for your braces?
The answer is a murky and cloudy: Maybe.
What you do need is a good toothbrush you will actually use. Because, let’s face it, if you aren’t going to use your toothbrush, it’s too heavy, it’s too complicated (all those pieces and attachments!), are you really going to use it? Or will you grab the trusty dollar toothbrush that’s not really made for the rigors of your braces.
A regular soft toothbrush works well, but you really should use the recommend orthodontic-cut toothbrush. When you look at it, the cut into a "v" shape, where the middle bristles are lower than the outer bristles. You can also use electric or sonic toothbrushes, such as a Sonicare or Oral-B Braun (see below for details).
Another helpful tool is a small spiral dental brush (sometimes called an "interproximal brush" or a "proxi-brush") or a rubber-tipped gum massager to clean larger food particles out from between your teeth and braces before you brush.
How Do You Brush Your Teeth With Braces On?
This is a multi-step process. First, you should thoroughly chew your food. After, rinse well with water.
Many people use a rubber-tipped gum massager to pick out pieces of food that may have become stuck in their braces. It’s a good precursor and it lets the brush do its job. The interdental brush also works well for this.
When you brush, use a small amount of toothpaste and brush in circles. Your brush should be angled so it moves into your braces. Be thorough! Each tooth should receive individual attention. Finally, brush your tongue!
When you brush, that circular motion can be created by hand or by an electronic toothbrush that moves in a circle. It’s why electronic toothbrushes are so popular with people who have braces.
Small Toothbrushes for Braces
Ironically, the smaller the toothbrush, the better the cleaning. You don’t want a baby toothbrush, but a big one is worse.
A slim toothbrush is best. It allows you to get into the cracks between teeth and right into the gum line. Plus, little hands have an easier time with smaller brushes. This is something you should really keep in mind when your child has braces: can they physically manipulate a heavier, bulkier electronic toothbrush? Or will the smaller manual brush provide a thorough cleaning?
Interdental Brushes for Braces
Interdental brushes * are small cylindrical or conical brushes that scrub in-between teeth and braces. They look like little tube brushes. Interdental brushes have many different sizes, shapes, and quality issues. Better brands have specialty coated wires so they are less likely to snag on your braces or cut into your gums. Here’s one place you don’t want to skip on price. Ask your dentist or orthodontist which interdental brush is best for your teeth.
Interdental brushes are usually easier to use and more effective than floss. But, proper sizing is the key. If the brush is too small for a larger area it won’t get the job done. And, if it’s too large, it will simply not fit or it will hurt your gums.
Many orthodontist recommend using 2 sizes of brushes: one for larger gaps and one for smaller gaps. That way, you keep your teeth clean and you are not hurting yourself.
The key is to use them every time you brush. These are not a once per day or every other day tool. Once you start brushing with them, it’s best to keep it up.
The downside is that interdental brushes wear out much quicker than regular brushes. Usually they are about $0.50 USD per unit and a single brush may last 7-10 days. If ease is important to you, this is the way to go. If cost is an issue (and it can be just after you get braces), plain floss * can be used.
Best Manual Toothbrush for Braces
When I did research for this, I spent quite a bit of time looking through dozens of articles, research, and professional opinions. The best conclusion I received was that each dentist has their own preferred brand. According to the American Dental Association, manual toothbrushes can be just as effective as powered ones.
The one thing they do all agree on is that it needs to be an orthodontic toothbrush for braces *. The bristles in the middle are lower than the bristles on the edges and cut into a "v" shape so that the toothbrush gives different angles and pressures. It also helps to not snag on the braces.
The best toothbrush is the one you will use every day, with a good brushing technique. It takes about 3 to 5 minutes to thoroughly brush your teeth, no matter whether you use a manual or electronic toothbrush.
Some people believe that a toothbrush with hard bristles is more effective at cleaning your teeth. But, the harder bristles hurt your gums, break down tooth enamel, and can even get in between your teeth and gums and hurt the roots. Dentists recommend using a soft brush and just brush longer.
The upside to manual toothbrushes is that it is a lower cost and they are more portable. They are smaller and fit into your bag easier. Plus, one user said people don’t look at you funny when you bring out a standard brush, but sneer at you for hauling out an electric one.
Best Electronic Toothbrush for Braces
Superior cleaning and plaque removal are the top two features touted of electric toothbrushes. People often state they can brush more consistently and thoroughly with electronic brushes.
But, the research doesn’t actually support that statement. In a 2011 study by the American Dental Association, they found there was no difference between people who properly brushed with a manual brush or properly brushed with an electronic brush.
The advantage an electric brush had was in the people who did NOT properly brush their teeth. For those people, the electric brush had the advantage of being more thorough.
This highlights why proper brushing is so important!
There are 2 different kinds of electronic brushes: rotating heads and vibrating heads.
Rotating heads complete the circular motion recommended by dentists. They are able to sweep bits away, just like a manual toothbrush. It is these toothbrushes * dentists recommend for braces.
Vibrating toothbrushes are also called sonic toothbrushes. They vibrate a much higher frequencies and smash food bits away. Dentists don’t recommend this type of brush because it is less effective with braces. All of the little pockets created by braces capture minute particles and can cause further problems.
If you're not manually dexterous, buying a high-range sonic or electric toothbrush can be a frustrating and a waste of money. You have to properly angle the brush to get the most out of the cleaning experience. There is less surface area, so you have to be precise.
Bristles and brush heads wear out more quickly for those with braces. Be prepared to invest in the additional cost of replacement heads. It’s common to replace the head every 2-3 months.
Electronic toothbrushes range from $49 to $500. Replacement parts can cost between $5 and $50. Using this type of toothbrush is a commitment.
Oral-B Toothbrush & Braces
Oral B Toothbrushes rank #1 and #2 for best electric toothbrushes for with braces and without. The basis of their brushes is the rotating heads, which dentists recommend for braces.
There are models of the Oral B electronic toothbrushes that are lower in cost, but the higher end models are better for braces. Oral B also has a complete line of braces accessories you can use; from floss to picks, to replacement heads.
Ironically, most of these brushes are not recommended for children, even though the brushes are targeted for braces (and often have pictures of children on them).
Sonicare Toothbrush & Braces
Sonicare toothbrushes rank #3. While the brush itself is not top of the line, dentists really like the Sonicare Airfloss * for cleaning between teeth and around braces. Based on what dentists are using for professional cleanings, the Airfloss uses pressurized air to blast away debris and plaque.
Many of the users state it’s easy to use and handle. Dentists think this is a good tool because the air itself causes little damage to gums and accidents are easily learned from.
Specialty Brushes for Braces
You actually don’t need a specialty braces brush. Once you have the recommended “v” shaped brush, your technique is what matters. Yet, a whole industry has sprung up around the use of specialty brushes to use with your braces.
Here’s what we recommend. Talk to your dentist and orthodontist. Find out what they recommend and explore alternatives. Your braces already cost a lot of money, you shouldn’t waste your money on useless tools.
Your orthodontist will give you a schedule and cleaning pattern. Based on your preferences, you can choose a toothbrush that fits your life.
Know how you brush your teeth. If you brush too quickly, an electronic toothbrush may be better. If you are sloppy in making sure you reach every tooth, a manual brush is better.
You should also keep a travel pack with you. In it, keep a small, manual toothbrush, toothpaste *, floss, and a pick *. This way, if you are ever stuck somewhere, you have your tools right with you. Adults usually keep this small pack in their office, purse, and/or car. A friend of mine (at the ripe age of 39) got braces and keeps a kit at work, in her purse, and in the car. As someone who forgets things often, she’s more comfortable buying cheap brushes for her braces.
Kids should keep a kit with their school nurse and/or teacher, and in their backpacks (if allowed). While many school rules have changed in the past decade, none of them shall stop a child from being able to properly take care of his or her teeth.
Where To Buy Your Toothbrush for Your Braces?
There are as many places to buy toothbrushes as books! Your dentist’s office is the first place you will see them. Don’t dismiss these brushes right away. Many manufacturers give huge discounts to dentists to market their products. You can find brushes for half to one quarter of the price of retail.
But, if your dentist doesn’t carry brushes, you can shop around. Grocery stores, discount stores, malls, and online shops all have the brushes.
In the competitive market, you may find a better price for the brush in one location and the replacement parts in another. You may also find that shopping around becomes a tiresome affair and spending the few extra dollars to save time is worth it.
There isn’t a best brush for braces, just a best brush for you.
Manual brushes equal electronic brushes for quality and thoroughness. More dentists recommend using a manual brush. Manual brushes are cheaper and easier to carry around with you.
Don’t dismiss the electronic brush, however. If ease of use is your goal, electronic brushes are better. It actually takes more work to learn how to use an electronic brush, but once learned brushing is easier.
All dentists agree: it’s the consistency and frequency that you brush that makes the difference.