Toothbrushes for Braces and Orthodontics

Orthodontic toothbrush

Orthodontic toothbrush

People with orthodontic braces require special and more detailed oral hygiene care as extra material or appliances fitted in the mouth acts as food and plaque trap. Although orthodontic appliances are extremely useful in straightening teeth, having braces will indefinitely make it harder to maintain standard oral hygiene care practices as extra effort is required to clean around the brackets and wire. Improper removal of plaque and food debris or poor oral hygiene care practices can make some people particularly susceptible to dental problems such as gingivitis and dental caries. Thus is it essential to use proper plaque removing agent such as a good orthodontic toothbrush to prevent plaque stagnation around tooth.

That being said, other oral hygiene care practices such as flossing is also important in helping to remove interproximal plaque (i.e. in between teeth) as these areas are inaccessible by toothbrushes.

So what type of orthodontic toothbrush should I use?

Three toothbrushes, photo taken in Sweden

Various orthodontic toothbrushes available

There are no specific toothbrushes produced purely for orthodontic braces care, hence conventional toothbrushes are used. With advancement of technology, there are a lot of different toothbrushes in the market and on top of marketing gimmicks; this makes it even harder to choose the best toothbrush that suits us. Generally dentist recommended toothbrushes consist of toothbrushes with a small head and soft bristles. Small head toothbrushes allow better access to back teeth especially in cases where patients are unable to open their mouth too wide as large head or normal adult sized toothbrushes will have difficulty reaching all surfaces of the back teeth comfortably. Small head toothbrushes allow better control due to increased space, hence better removal of plaque. A small head toothbrush can also be easily angled to clean the back surfaces of front teeth much more easily than large head toothbrush. Some patients prefer having two separate toothbrushes, an adult sized and a kid sized so that the former is utilized for general cleaning, and the latter for other surfaces frequently missed.

Soft bristled toothbrushes are the preferred toothbrush for braces as they are more flexible and are gentler on tooth structure. Medium or hard bristled toothbrushes when used inappropriately can cause unnecessary stripping and loss of tooth enamel. For patients with manual dexterity problems, a large handled toothbrush can be used to improve control and better plaque removal. Some toothbrushes such as the popular oral B ‘cross action’ toothbrushes have angled toothbrushes that are said to promote cleaning in areas that are harder to reach, such as in between teeth.

Manual toothbrushes are the same as electric toothbrushes

Electric toothbrush

Electric toothbrush

There has been a long ongoing debate on the efficacy of electric toothbrushes in cleaning being more superior to manual toothbrushes. But as of yet, no significant studies have managed to conclusively prove so. Most studies have found that electric toothbrushes and manual toothbrushes are similar in terms of efficacy, and the key determining factor for better plaque removal being toothbrushing technique. So as long as you follow a thorough and proper way in brushing your teeth and orthodontic appliances, it does not really matter if it was with an electric or manual toothbrush. However, electric toothbrushes may encourage more thorough plaque removal in certain people as it is simpler and more interesting to use. Braun electric toothbrushes come with a timer so that patients know when to switch sides. Hasbro tooth tune toothbrushes on the other hand are targeted to children as music is played while they brush.

Interdental brushes for orthodontic braces care

Set of interdental brushes.

Interdental brushes for orthodontic braces care

Interdental brushes are the best toothbrush for braces when used in conjunction with normal toothbrushes. Interdental toothbrush is usually recommended for patients with orthodontic braces to brush their teeth after every meal to remove plaque and food debris stagnation around the appliance. It can be troublesome for many people to bring a normal sized toothbrush along and without dental floss; it can be hard to clean food or plaque trapped in between teeth, known as the interproximal areas. This is where interdental brushes come in handy. They are small brushes shaped like a mini bottle brush with a small tip, allowing it to be inserted in between brackets behind the wiring and also into small gaps present between teeth to remove plaque. Its small size makes it convenient and the best toothbrush for patients to bring around in their pockets or handbags. This encourages patient to clean their teeth after every meal.

How often should I replace my toothbrush?

Patients are recommended to replace their toothbrush every three to four months or when the bristles get worn out. Patients with orthodontic braces will generally find that the bristles tend to wear out quicker. This is normal as orthodontic appliances are harder and contains many slots which tend to work the bristles more than usual. Sometimes, orthodontic toothbrushes may need to be replaced every two to three months.