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Tooth brushing is a crucial part of maintaining good oral health and hygiene. An electric brush can be more effective than a manual toothbrush, but only if you use the proper technique.
Electric toothbrushes use oscillating rotations or vibrations to remove food particles from your teeth and help prevent tooth decay. The brush head may either move back and forth or spin in a circle.
This article explains how to use an electric toothbrush with the correct techniques for thorough brushing and proper cleaning of the brush head. It also reviews the pros and cons of using electric toothbrushes and what to look for when purchasing one.
Note that this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Talk to your dentist or dental hygienist about the best tooth-brushing technique for your needs.
Here’s how to properly brush your teeth with an electric toothbrush:
Unlike a manual brush, you have to charge an electric toothbrush prior to use. Rechargeable electric toothbrushes plug into a wall outlet. Others are battery-operated.
Many electric brushes have a charge indicator light, so you can see how much power is left. If your brush runs out of power, you can continue to use it manually. It’s a good idea to keep a manual toothbrush or extra batteries around just in case.
If you have a rechargeable toothbrush, store it away from the sink so it won’t fall in. There’s risk of an electric shock if the plugged-in charging unit falls into the water.
Apply a pea-sized dab of toothpaste to the brush head and run the bristles under water. A fluoride toothpaste can help strengthen tooth enamel and prevent cavities.
Start with the outer surfaces of your teeth. Move the brush head slowly over each tooth surface.
A round brush head should brush about one tooth at a time. Spend a few seconds on each tooth before moving to the next.
Use gentle pressure. Applying too much pressure can wear down your tooth enamel. Many electric toothbrushes have pressure sensors to let you know if you’re pressing too hard.
Repeat step 3, brushing the inside surfaces of your teeth. Then, move on to the chewing surfaces and behind your back teeth.
If your toothbrush has a 2-minute timer with 30-second intervals, divide your mouth equally into four quadrants. Brush the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of each quadrant before moving on to the next.
Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gum line and gently run it over your gums. This is essential for proper gum care, which will help you avoid periodontal disease.
Then, pass the brush head over your tongue and the roof of your mouth. Move back to front to keep your breath fresh by removing debris and odor-causing bacteria.
Here are additional tips to keep your teeth clean and reduce tartar buildup:
Most electric toothbrushes have replaceable brush heads. Use a brush head with soft bristles to reduce wear on tooth enamel.
Over time, normal wear will damage the bristles on the brush head and make them less effective. Clean your brush heads and replace them regularly (about every 3 months).
Here are tips on how to maintain your brush heads:
Rinse the brush head under water and allow it to air dry after each time you brush your teeth. Make sure the bristles are dry before storing the brush head in a travel case or cover. Wipe the toothbrush handle and charging base with a damp cloth.
Many brush heads have a blue indicator strip that fades with use to monitor brush head replacement. When the colored strip fades halfway, or when the bristles fray, you’ll know it’s time to replace the brush head.
Ensure the brush head fits the type of base you have. A broken brush head can cause small parts to fall in your mouth, which may cause choking.
There are different types of electric toothbrushes, and the best type for you is a matter of personal preference. We also recommend talking to your dentist or other dental professional for advice on choosing a toothbrush.
Key factors to consider include:
Electric toothbrushes are available in most pharmacies. You can also shop for electric toothbrushes online, including through third-party platforms like Amazon.
Oral-B is a leading oral care brand that sells a range of toothbrushes, including electric ones. Oral-B electric toothbrushes are designed for different needs, from whitening to sensitivity. The best-sellers range from about $30 to $150.1
Oral-B also sells replacement heads for your electric toothbrush so you don’t have to replace the entire brush every few months. They come in packs of two to six electric toothbrush heads ranging from $37 to $60.
Generic heads for electric toothbrushes are also available for about $0.70 each
Both electric and manual toothbrushes are effective. However, using an electric toothbrush is different from using a manual toothbrush.
There are many advantages of electric toothbrushes that may make them better than manual toothbrushes for some people:
There are many benefits of using an electric toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes tend to reduce plaque and gingivitis more than manual ones.
One study found that plaque is reduced by 21 percent and gingivitis by 11 percent after 3 months of using an electric toothbrush.4
As long as you’re using an electric toothbrush properly, there aren’t many downsides. The biggest disadvantage is that electric toothbrushes are typically more expensive than manual brushes.
The price of an electric toothbrush can range from $15 to $250. In comparison, you can buy a manual toothbrush (or a pack) for just a few dollars.
Another possible downside is that you may not have easy access to an outlet where you brush your teeth.
If you travel often, you may need an outlet adapter for your electric brush, which will take up more space in your luggage.
Unlike a manual toothbrush, there’s no need to scrub your teeth back and forth with an electric one. The oscillating or vibrating brush head will do this for you.
No, you shouldn’t press down hard on your teeth. Apply gentle pressure. If your brush has a pressure sensor, it’ll let you know if you’re pushing too hard.
Brush your teeth for at least 2 minutes, twice daily. Most electric brushes have a 2-minute timer to ensure you brush for the recommended time.
As long as you use the proper technique, electric toothbrushes are an easy and effective way to practice good oral hygiene.
Always clean and maintain the brush heads properly. Additionally, make sure to floss daily and see your dentist for routine exams and cleanings.
Clarify any questions you have about properly using an electric or manual toothbrush with your dentist or dental hygienist.
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