We’ve created a quick guide to brushing with braces, and researched some of the best electric and manual toothbrush options for the most optimal clean with braces.
Jump straight to our top toothbrush picks by clicking here.
Article Quick Links
- How Dental Braces Work
- Why You May Need Braces
- Is Electric a Good Option?
- Best Electric Toothbrush For Braces
- Best Manual Toothbrush For Braces
Dental braces are an orthodontic appliance used to straighten and align teeth, positioning them in accordance with an individual’s facial features and bite. With the cosmetic and functional benefits braces provide come a few cleaning challenges. But fear not, our guide will walk you through maintaining good oral hygiene, and help you select an appropriate toothbrush for braces.
How do Dental Braces Work?
We think of our teeth as permanent, unchanging and immovable.
The truth is that teeth can be shifted, but only slowly, and under constant, gentle pressure. That’s how braces work.
Comprised of four primary parts—a bracket that attaches to each tooth; the bonding material that holds brackets in place; a thin arch wire that applies pressure to the teeth; and a ligature elastic that holds brackets to the arch wire—braces apply pressure to the membrane that surrounds the bottom portion of the teeth.
As the membrane is stretched, teeth loosen and shift, triggering bone growth – a process called bone remodelling – to strengthen and support each tooth in its new position.
Eventually, this realignment becomes permanent, resulting in an even, attractive smile.
Who Wears Braces – and for How Long?
Many people, from young children to the middle-aged and even (though uncommonly) the elderly, wear braces. A child’s permanent teeth usually form between the ages of six and nine – a good age for a first orthodontic evaluation.
As a person gets older, their bones stop growing and become more resistant to remodelling, necessitating that braces be worn for longer periods of time.
While children’s braces stay on an average of twelve months to two years, an adult may wear braces for up to three years. Both adults and children may need to use a retainer – an orthodontic appliance that helps newly realigned teeth settle into, and stay in, place.
Reasons for Needing Braces
There are a number of reasons that someone would need to wear braces, but it’s usually to address an appearance and/or a function problem from crooked or abnormally aligned teeth.
You may need braces of you have…
- An underbite: When the lower jaw/teeth outwardly overlap the top teeth (prognathism).
- An overbite: When the upper teeth excessively overlap the lower teeth.
- Overcrowding: When there’s not enough room for all teeth to grow.
- Crooked teeth: When teeth become misaligned – usually caused by genetics or overcrowding.
- Asymmetrical teeth: When the centre alignment of the upper and lower teeth don’t match.
- Diastema: When large gaps form between teeth.
These are just some of the main reasons people get fitted with braces, but only a dental professional can tell you if you really need them.
Maintaining Good Oral Health
Practicing good oral hygiene matters – failing to do so can result in cavities, plaque, gum disease, tooth decay and a host of other health problems – all of which can be exacerbated by failing to exercise extra thoroughness and care when wearing braces. Thankfully there are a number of effective product to help avoid these problems if you have to brush with braces on.
At the core of any good oral hygiene routine is brushing. Dentists recommend brushing for a full two minutes, divided your teeth into four 30-second segments – one segment for each quadrant of the mouth. However, some experts advise that those who wear braces brush longer.
Because it’s important to carefully clean on and around the braces’ wires and brackets, ensuring that no food particles remain left behind. Also, braces create more areas where plaque can build up.
Seek your orthodontist’s advice on removing elastics or any other parts of your braces prior to brushing. As with any brushing routine, clean each tooth thoroughly, holding the brush at a 45 degree angle, and avoid over-brushing (applying excess pressure). Also, use a brush specially designed to clean teeth and braces – more on that to come.
Flossing helps remove food particles and plaque from deep between teeth and along the gumline. Plaque – a sticky bacterial film – produces acid, which causes gum irritation, cavities and tooth decay. Flossing complements and completes brushing.
The brackets found on dental braces complicate flossing. For best results, use Superfloss—it’s comprised of both normal and spongy floss, and features a stiffened end. Or try threader floss – it’s extra smooth, and features an integrated threader. Both types of floss are designed for braces and other orthodontic appliances. Your dental health professional will help you choose the product that’s right for your needs.
People who wear braces may wish to avoid nuts, corn, peanut butter, hard candies – and anything else that leaves behind particles or sticky residue. Giving up what may be some of your favourite treats can be hard – but no worse than having to constantly remove bits of food from your braces!
How an Electric Toothbrushes is a Good Option
Is an electric toothbrush any good at cleaning teeth with braces?
In one word, yes – an electric toothbrush is a great option, for a number of reasons:
- An electric toothbrush cleans more effectively than its manual counterpart, oscillating at high speed and removing food particles and plaque from hard-to-reach places – especially important when wearing braces.
- Unlike a manual toothbrush, electric toothbrushes feature multiple cleaning modes, including those for sensitive teeth and gums.
- Research shows that at least sixty percent of people have poor brushing technique. While an electric toothbrush won’t completely eliminate bad brushing habits, it can go a long way, with integrated timers and pressure sensors so that you develop correct brushing habits.
- Electric toothbrushes accommodate a wide range of replaceable brush heads, including those designed especially for braces.
The Best Electric Toothbrush for Braces
After extensive research, we’ve concluded that the Oral-B Pro 2500 is the ideal electric toothbrush for people that wear braces. The Pro 2500 is affordably-priced, yet feature-rich and highly efficient:
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- The 3D movement cleaning system rotates, oscillates and pulsates, mimicking professional dental tools, and allowing the round brush heads to remove up to one hundred percent more plaque than a manual toothbrush.
- A visible pressure sensor warns you if you’re over-brushing, protecting your gums against excessive pressure, and prolonging the life of the brush heads.
- An integrated timer buzzes (interrupted vibrations) every 30 seconds, reminding you to move on to the next quadrant of your mouth, ensuring all that your teeth are evenly cleaned.
- The Pro 2500 is compatible with Oral-B’s Ortho Care brush heads. Specially designed for orthodontic appliances, Ortho Care brush heads are tough on plaque, gentle on braces, and effectively clean interdental spaces.
Twelve months to three years can seem like a long time to wear braces – but being diligent about your oral hygiene routine, and brushing with a good-quality electric toothbrush, such as the Oral-B Pro 2500, with the Ortho brush head, will help ensure clean, healthy-looking teeth, and a beautiful, straight smile!
What About a Manual Toothbrush for Braces?
Don’t fancy going electric?
If you prefer to stick with a manual brush, you’ll be pleased to know that there are some disposable brushes that are designed specifically for dental brace wearers. Oral-B, the dental health product masters, have created the Oral-B Indicator 35 Orthodontic Toothbrush with V-shaped bristles, a longer, thinner brush head for better cleaning around braces and hard to reach areas.
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It’s a comfortable, easy to use and efficient manual toothbrush with nothing but positive feedback reviews.