Braces, once considered a rite of passage for teenagers, are now increasingly embraced by adults, including celebrities, in their pursuit of a perfect smile. Achieving that coveted, straight-toothed grin requires meticulous oral care, which includes brushing and flossing. While traditional manual toothbrushes have long been the norm, dentists are now recommending electric toothbrushes as a superior option for maintaining oral hygiene. But what if you have braces? Can you use an electric toothbrush effectively? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the advantages of electric toothbrushes for those with braces, proper brushing techniques, and the recommended frequency for brushing your teeth while undergoing orthodontic treatment.
Is It Better to Use a Manual Toothbrush With Braces?
The American Dental Association (ADA) advises brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush that suits the size and shape of your mouth. While manual brushing is adequate when done correctly, electric toothbrushes offer distinct advantages, especially for individuals with braces.
Electric toothbrushes feature a rotating, oscillating head, which streamlines and enhances the brushing process. This increased efficiency can be particularly beneficial for those with braces, as it ensures a more thorough clean.
How to Brush Your Teeth With Braces
Proper brushing technique is vital when you have braces, regardless of whether you opt for a manual or electric toothbrush. The following steps outline the recommended method for brushing your teeth, taking into account the presence of braces:
Brush Head Angle:
Position your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums.
Gentle Back-and-Forth Strokes:
- Use gentle, back-and-forth strokes that are about the width of a single tooth.
- Ensure you brush the outer and inner surfaces, as well as the chewing surfaces of your teeth.
- For the inside surfaces of your front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several up-and-down strokes.
Focus on Brackets and Wires:
- Pay extra attention to the areas around the brackets and under the wires, as food particles and bacteria tend to accumulate in these areas.
Oral health expert Edney suggests using specific brushes, such as a single tuft brush to reach challenging areas, and an interdental brush with a small, bristled head to clean between your teeth. She emphasizes the significance of cleaning these hard-to-reach spaces, which account for approximately 30% of your tooth surface, where bacteria can accumulate if left unattended.
Types of Electric Toothbrushes for Use With Braces
When considering electric toothbrushes for use with braces, you have several options to choose from:
Standard Electric Toothbrushes
- Standard electric toothbrushes typically operate at speeds between 2500 and 7500 strokes per minute.
- Compared to the 300 manual strokes per minute, an electric toothbrush can provide significantly more cleaning power in a shorter time.
Sonic and Oscillating Toothbrushes
- Sonic toothbrushes operate at much higher speeds, with more than 30,000 strokes per minute.
- These toothbrushes are well-suited for individuals with braces as they effectively remove food particles and bacteria trapped around brackets, elastics, and under wires.
- Clinical research indicates that sonic toothbrushes can remove more plaque than manual brushing.
Electric or Sonic: Choosing a Toothbrush for Use With Braces
When selecting an electric toothbrush for use with braces, you can explore various features and options, including:
- Rotating (spinning) oscillating brush head
- Back-and-forth oscillating brush head
- Variable modes and speed settings
- Interchangeable brush head types
- Rechargeable battery
- 2-minute timer with 30-second pacers
Sonic toothbrushes share many features with electric toothbrushes but differ in brush speed and motion. Sonic toothbrushes vibrate at high frequencies, typically exceeding 30,000 strokes per minute, making them highly effective at removing plaque and debris. The rapid movements not only clean the tooth surface but also agitate the water and plaque in your mouth, facilitating the removal of harmful bacteria. This thorough cleaning is challenging to achieve with manual brushing.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How often should I brush my teeth with braces?
It is recommended to brush your teeth at least twice a day, as advised by the American Dental Association. However, individuals with braces should also consider brushing after meals to prevent food particles from becoming trapped around the brackets and wires.
Can electric toothbrushes damage braces?
Electric toothbrushes, when used correctly, should not damage braces. In fact, they can provide a more thorough and efficient cleaning, reducing the risk of damage caused by plaque and debris buildup.
Should I use a specific type of toothbrush head for braces?
While a standard toothbrush head can be effective, specialized brush heads designed for orthodontic patients may provide added convenience and efficiency when cleaning around brackets and wires.
Are there specific toothpaste recommendations for individuals with braces?
Using fluoride toothpaste is generally recommended for individuals with braces to help prevent tooth decay. Consult your orthodontist or dentist for any specific recommendations.
Can I use a water flosser with braces in addition to brushing?
Yes, a water flosser can be a valuable addition to your oral care routine with braces. It helps to remove debris from hard-to-reach areas and can complement your brushing routine.
Maintaining oral hygiene with braces is essential to prevent dental decay and gum disease. While both manual and electric toothbrushes can be effective, electric toothbrushes, especially sonic and oscillating models, offer advantages in terms of thorough cleaning and efficiency. Whichever toothbrush you choose, the key is to be diligent in your brushing routine to achieve a beautiful, healthy smile.