The Best Toothbrushes for Braces (2023)

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The Best Toothbrushes for Braces (1)

Keeping your teeth clean is more important than ever when you have braces or other orthodontics, but it’s also way tougher: you need to brush and floss effectively but not too harshly, and you’ve got to get under, in between, and around all those wires, brackets, and hard-to-reach places.

“Braces on your teeth are like little jungle gyms: lots of nooks and crannies for germs to hide,” said Amy James, DMD, of Dr. Amy James and Associates in an interview with Verywell Health. “In addition to the brackets, the wires that connect the brackets get in the way of the toothbrush bristles reaching all the surfaces of the teeth.”

To meet the unique challenges of brushing with braces, you’ll need a toothbrush that has softer bristles, a smaller or more narrow brush head, and an ergonomic handle for maximum maneuvering in all the nooks and crannies of your mouth. We researched more than a dozen popular toothbrush styles, looking for ones that not only provide a deep, effective clean but do so safely for people with orthodontics. We found electric and manual options across a range of budgets and for all ages.

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Best for Plaque Buildup:

Oral-B Smart 1500 at Amazon

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In This Article

  • Our Picks

  • What to Look For

  • FAQ

  • Our Expertise

Best Overall

Colgate Keep Soft Manual Toothbrush

The Best Toothbrushes for Braces (2)

Pros

  • Grippy, long-lasting handle

  • Eco-friendly

  • Deep-reaching bristles for extra cleaning

Cons

  • Could be smaller and softer

This manual toothbrush looks like something out of Star Trek, but we promise it’s a lot simpler than it seems. The Colgate Keep is an eco-friendly toothbrush with a long-lasting aluminum handle and replaceable brush heads, so you can reduce the usual waste of manual toothbrushes by hanging onto the handle, no matter how often you need to replace your bristles.

What we love about this toothbrush for people with braces is the unique style of that lightweight aluminum handle; with a figure-eight shape and grippable sides, this toothbrush will not only feel good in your hands, it’ll make it easier to twist and turn your brush head as you clean all around your teeth and braces.

“An ergonomic toothbrush with a larger, easier-to-grip handle could make it easier for younger children with braces to adequately clean their teeth and braces and [get to] those harder-to-reach places,” said Ghias Jabbour, DDS, owner of Blanco Crossing Dental.

As far as brush heads go, the Colgate Keep checks off those key boxes, too: it’s smaller and oval-shaped with softer bristles, making it easy to maneuver into tight spots and clean effectively without damaging braces.

Price at time of publication: $11

Key Specs:
Type: Manual | Bristle Firmness: Medium soft | Added Features: Replaceable brush heads

Best Budget

Dental Aesthetics V-Trim Double-Ended Brush

The Best Toothbrushes for Braces (3)

Pros

  • Two-in-one toothbrush and wire brush

  • Pack of four

  • Good for kids

Cons

  • May be too soft for deep cleaning

  • Can shed

If you or your child are tough on toothbrushes, you might not want to splurge on electric or manual options, instead opting for something that’s easily tossed and replaced when it’s worn out. But you still need to use a toothbrush that gets the job done, which is why we chose this v-trim double-ended brush by Dental Aesthetics.

With angled bristles for a deeper clean around oral appliances and a colorful handle grip, these toothbrushes (which come in a convenient pack of four) are a good choice for people with braces who want a thorough, reliable cleaning and a constant rotation of brand new brushes that don’t break the bank. As a bonus, they come with an attached interproximal brush for cleaning in and around archwires, something New Jersey-based dentist Dr. Onaedo Achebe said should be an important part of your daily brushing routine.

Price at time of publication: $10

Key Specs:

Type: Manual | Bristle Firmness: Soft | Added Features: Interproximal brush for cleaning around wires

Best Electric

Philips Sonicare 4100 Power Toothbrush

The Best Toothbrushes for Braces (4)

Pros

  • Small, streamlined brush head

  • Pressure-sensing for sensitive teeth

  • Smart timer tells you how long to brush

Cons

  • Does not include a USB wall adapter

  • Fixed shut-off after two minutes

Some people want all the bells and whistles when they’re paying for an electric toothbrush, and that’s fine, but if you’re just looking for a high-powered cleaning that keeps your teeth healthy while you straighten them, you don’t need a cadre of extra features to confuse you.

That’s what we like about the Philips Sonicare 4100: it’s a dentist-recommended electric toothbrush that provides a powerful clean and just enough extra features to make brushing easier (but not so many that the simple act of brushing twice a day becomes overly complicated). The small oval brush head is compatible with braces and busts plaque on your teeth and gum line better than a manual toothbrush. It also offers several helpful tools—like a pressure sensor, auto-timer, and brush head replacement reminder—to take your brushing to the next level.

Basically, the Philips Sonicare 4100 is the best electric toothbrush for people with braces who just want an electric toothbrush, not an AI-powered robot. It works simply and effectively, making it a good choice for kids and tech-averse adults.

Price at time of publication: $50

Key Specs:
Type: Electric | Bristle Firmness: Medium | Added Features: Brush head replacement reminder

Best Soft Bristle

Y-kelin V-Shaped Orthodontic Toothbrush

The Best Toothbrushes for Braces (5)

Pros

  • V-shaped bristles for deeper reach along gums

  • Pack of four

  • Includes interproximal brush for wire cleaning

Cons

  • May be too soft for deep cleaning

All of the dentists we spoke to emphasized the importance of choosing a soft bristled toothbrush if you have braces; not only are your teeth more prone to irritation, you’ve got some (very expensive) oral appliances in your mouth that need protecting.

Of the many toothbrushes we reviewed, the Y-kelin v-shaped orthodontic toothbrushes consistently came up as one of the options with the softest, gentlest brushes. In fact, they may even be a bit too soft for some, but we think that makes them a good choice for kids and people with sensitive teeth. We also like that the Y-kelin brushes feature V-shaped bristles for a deeper clean, and a slim and grippable handle design. These brushes also come with a smaller, interdental brush for wire cleaning, an important step in braces hygiene.

“If plaque is left on the teeth [in between the brackets] it will create a white spot lesion on the enamel of the tooth,” said James. “This is like the precursor to a cavity . . . leaving the enamel softer and more susceptible to breakdown.”

Price at time of publication: $14

Key Specs:
Type: Manual | Bristle Firmness: Soft | Added Features: None

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Best for Gum Health

Dr. Collins Perio Toothbrush

The Best Toothbrushes for Braces (6)

Pros

  • Tapered bristles for gum line cleaning

  • Soft polyester bristles

  • Pack of three

Cons

  • Not a small head brush

  • Can be irritating to some users with gum disease

Keeping your gums healthy involves brushing well along your gum line and making sure you’re flossing at least once a day to clean out the nooks and crannies between your teeth. The Perio toothbrush by Dr. Collins makes maintaining squeaky clean teeth and gums a total breeze, thanks to the unique design of the bristles. Not only are they made of soft polyester, they taper down to a slim point at the end, meaning you can get closer to the gum line, deeper in between teeth and archwires, and more smoothly around brackets whenever you brush.

Other features of the Perio brush include an elongated neck for reaching way back into your mouth and some nifty antibacterial properties—the bristles are infused with natural antiseptics, like tea tree oil and magnolia bark, and those polyester fibers are less porous, reducing the chances for bacterial growth.

Price at time of publication: $9

Key Specs:
Type: Manual | Bristle Firmness: Soft | Added Features: None

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Best for Travel

Triple Bristle GO Toothbrush

The Best Toothbrushes for Braces (7)

Pros

  • Runs on battery power, no need to charge

  • Cleans three sides of your teeth at once

  • Three vibration modes

Cons

  • Battery compartment is finicky

  • Brush heads may not last as long as competition

Many electric toothbrushes rely on a charge via USB cable or wall plug to power up, which is fine . . . unless you’re a frequent traveler who doesn’t appreciate the inconvenience of having to pack your toothbrush and a charging base. Enter the Triple Bristle GO, a travel-friendly version of the Triple Bristle Original. Instead of needing to be charged, the Triple Bristle GO runs on two AA batteries, so you can pop in a fresh set, toss your toothbrush into your luggage, and, well, go.

On the braces side of things, we like that the Triple Bristle brush head is a soft, angled style with bristles on three sides of the head: this allows you to get a more thorough cleaning with less maneuvering around, and in a shorter period of time, although you should still brush for the full two minutes! This is particularly great for kids with braces, since they tend to be unreliable brushers at best; even if they start slacking a bit, the Triple Bristle GO will keep their teeth and braces cleaner than the average toothbrush.

Price at time of publication: $39

Key Specs:
Type: Electric | Bristle Firmness: Soft | Added Features: Autotime, brush head replacement indicator

Verywell Tested: Oral-B Genius 9600 Electric Toothbrush Review

Best for Plaque Buildup

Oral-B Smart 1500

4.2

The Best Toothbrushes for Braces (8)

Pros

  • Small round brush head

  • Multiple types of vibration for cleaning

  • Long-lasting lithium battery with charge

Cons

  • Noisy

  • Gaps in brush allow for toothpaste buildup

All electric toothbrushes are champions when it comes to breaking up plaque, destroying more of the gunky, disease-causing stuff than most manual toothbrushes.

“Accumulation of germs and old food particles make up plaque, [which] is responsible for gum disease [like] gingivitis—or worse, periodontitis—and cavities,” said James.

What we love about the small, round, brace-friendly brush head on the Oral-B Smart 1500 is that it’s designed to tackle plaque in three different ways: by oscillating, rotating, and pulsing, cleaning the surfaces of your teeth better than the average electric toothbrush.

Other notable features of the Oral-B Smart 1500 include a pressure sensor to protect your gums from aggressive brushing and a timer that lets you know when it’s time to move from one part of your mouth to another. The brush also runs on a long-lasting lithium ion battery which requires less charging to get your teeth and braces sparkling clean.

Price at time of publication: $80

Key Specs:
Type: Electric | Bristle Firmness: Medium | Added Features: Autotimer, pressure sensor

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What to Look for in Toothbrushes for Braces

Brush heads

Dr. Daniel Reich, director of periodontics and associate professor at Touro College of Dental Medicine suggested that people with braces choose toothbrushes featuring small, rounded brush heads for their simple ease of use around the small fixtures like archwires and brackets.

These types of brush heads are especially good for kids with braces, or adults with smaller mouths, said Achebe, noting that they will help you get a “more precise clean.”

Chances are, you’ll have to pay a little bit of special attention to this, since many manual toothbrushes sold in big box stores or handed out for free at the dentist tend to have larger, bulkier brush heads. Many electric toothbrushes, though, are designed with smaller brush heads.

Bristle type

When it comes to the style of bristles on your toothbrush, Achebe said you want to aim for soft, flexible bristles, since these can remove plaque from your teeth effectively without damaging your teeth, gums, or braces.

One thing you may not have thought about is the type of bristle motion available with electric toothbrushes.

“Some electric brushes have rotating bristles, while others just vibrate,” said Reich, who adds that the rotating bristles tend to work better than the ones that only vibrate.

Handle shape and size

Be honest: Do you ever really think about the size and shape of your toothbrush handle when choosing between options at the store? Probably not, but if you have braces, you definitely should.

“When choosing a brush handle, you want one that is sleek and easy to hold,” said Achebe. “A bulky handle will make it difficult to brush hard-to-reach places.”

While you don’t have to pick a toothbrush with a fancy, ergonomic handle like the Colgate Keep we featured as our Best Overall pick, you should make sure your toothbrush is scaled to your hands (i.e., kids and smaller adults should look for slightly smaller handles) and that you can grip the handle comfortably so it doesn’t slip away from you while you’re tackling tricky spots.

Cost

Some people will never be able to justify the expense of an electric toothbrush, while others don’t mind shelling out for a toothbrush that does more of the hard work for them. To be fair, there are extra financial considerations if you opt for an electric brush, says Dr. Reich: “The major downsides of an electric toothbrush are the initial cost and having to find replacement heads every few months.”

However, it might be worthwhile to you—and your smile—to invest in something more advanced. It’s entirely up to you and how much assistance you need cleaning your teeth.

“Electric toothbrushes are more expensive but come with technology that assists the user—especially children—with brushing their teeth and braces properly,” said Jabbour. “Our patients generally get better with results with electric toothbrushes, but regular old toothbrushes with a soft head can also do a good job keeping teeth and braces clean.”

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are manual or electric toothbrushes better for braces?

    If you truly prefer a manual toothbrush, there’s no reason why you can’t make one work for you, but you will have to do more work to make sure you’re cleaning your teeth and braces thoroughly. For that reason, most of the dentists we asked recommended electric.

    “I believe that electric toothbrushes are better than manual toothbrushes in general [but] especially for patients with braces,” said Reich. “Multiple studies show that electric toothbrushes are better at reducing plaque and gingivitis than manual brushes, [because] electric brushes do most of the work for you, [which] is much better, especially for people with dexterity issues.”

  • Are there any risks of brushing with an electric toothbrush when you have braces?

    As long as you’re using your electric toothbrush according to the instructions, they are safe to use if you have braces. The one thing you should be particularly careful about, said Reich, is how hard you brush; using too much pressure can tangle the bristles up with your archwires. Keep the pressure gentle but firm, and utilize your toothbrush’s automatic pressure sensor if it has one.

  • How often should you brush your teeth when you have braces?

    Ideally, you should ramp up your brushing to more than just twice per day when you have braces. James noted that it’s always recommended to brush before you go to bed (to remove any lingering daytime food particles) and in the morning (when the nighttime mouth germs are at their highest levels).

    But you might also want to incorporate additional brushing after each meal, she said, to “remove the food particles that collect under the wire and around the brackets.” That should help reduce the amount of plaque buildup in your mouth and keep your teeth and gums healthier.

Our Expertise

Sarah Bradley has been writing health content since 2017—everything from product roundups and illness FAQs to nutrition explainers and the dish on diet trends. She knows how important it is to receive trustworthy and expert-approved advice about over-the-counter products that manage everyday health conditions, from GI issues and allergies to chronic headaches and joint pain.

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