How To Use An Electric Toothbrush

Oral health is a crucial part of everyday grooming. Brushing your teeth protects your teeth and gums from gum disease and other conditions. It also saves you the embarrassment of people wrinkling their nose, holding their breath, or even turning away whenever you open your mouth to speak.

Investing in a good toothbrush – whether manual or electric is the first step towards good dental care. Electric toothbrushes are particularly very effective when it comes to cleaning your teeth and that’s why we’ll be focusing on how to use an electric toothbrush correctly.

Importance of brushing your teeth properly

You’re running late, don’t have the time to brush your teeth, what do you do? Well, you figure putting some toothpaste (or mouthwash) in your mouth and gurgling it, will help with the breath and you’ll brush once you get back, or not.

Here’s why you should take the time to brush your teeth properly with good fluoride toothpaste:

  • Tooth decay and Gingivitis: Run your tongue across your teeth, do you feel a coating on them? That is plaque. If you don’t brush properly, plaque builds up in your teeth and gums causing decay and gum inflammation.
  • Bad breath: This can be a symptom of other health issues, but poor dental hygiene is a major cause. Foods stay in-between teeth, ferments and smell awful.
  • Premature birth: Poor oral health is known to cause premature births in pregnant women.
  • Tooth Stains: Foods with dark pigments such as coffee, tea, and wine may leave stains on your teeth.
  • Cavities and Periodontal Disease: These tiny holes aren’t just painful but also permanent. Without proper dental care, you risk developing periodontal disease which is characterised by plaque spreading and growing below the gum line and the irreversible loss of bones that support your teeth.

Difference between a manual and an electric toothbrush

Before we look at the differences between manual and electric toothbrushes, it is worth mentioning that the latter use two types of technology – oscillating and sonic.

To clean your teeth, oscillating toothbrushes turn very fast in one direction and then the other. By fast we mean roughly 2,500 to 7,000 strokes per minute. Some of the best oscillating toothbrushes come from Oral-B.

Sonic toothbrushes vibrate side to side at approximately 30,000 to 40,000 strokes per minute. Both types can be relied upon to clean teeth effectively,

Some scientific evidence suggests that some electric toothbrushes push toothpaste, water, and saliva into areas that are hard to reach using manual toothbrushes. In other words, they clean your mouth better.

Electric toothbrushes are also ideal for a person with limited mobility like arthritis and other health conditions. Most have inbuilt timers that enable you to brush long enough to adequately remove plaque from teeth and gums and minimize the possibility of developing gum disease.

If you’re fitted with braces and find it difficult to maintain good oral hygiene, an electric toothbrush may be the best option to help you maintain a clean mouth. They are also a fun way to get younger kids to embrace good oral hygiene.

On the flip side, an electric toothbrush is considerably more expensive than a manual brush. Dental experts recommend replacing the brush head with a new one every three to four months.

The electric brush must be powered for it to work so you’ll need to plug it into a power source or keep a set of batteries handy. Batteries run out fast and don’t provide enough power to move the brush need.

A manual toothbrush is lighter than its electric counterpart, packs light and you can take it with you anywhere. It’s also affordable, easily accessible and comes in an array of styles and heads.

Unfortunately, manual brushes don’t have timers making it difficult for you to know how long you have been brushing. Moreover, a person using a manual toothbrush is likely to brush harder which can hurt their teeth and gums.

Step by step guide on using your electric toothbrush properly

Using an electric toothbrush is undeniably the best way to keep your teeth clean. That said, do you know how one properly? We’ll provide a detailed guide and share tips on how to use an electric toothbrush like a pro.

1. Prepare the Toothbrush

Start by running the toothbrush under water and apply a small amount of fluoride toothpaste. The thing about fluoride toothpaste is that it helps remove plaque and strengthen your teeth.

2. Divide Your Mouth into Four Sections

Think of your mouth in four parts – top right, top left, bottom right and bottom left. Spend 30 seconds or so on each section brushing the surface of every single tooth.

3. Positioning Your Toothbrush

Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle to your gumline. This position will help you get the best out of your electric toothbrush. Remember not to apply too much pressure as this can injure your teeth and gums.

4. Brush Your Teeth

Brush the outer surfaces on one section using back and forth motions as you maintain the 45-degree angle. Repeat the process on the inner surfaces of the teeth. Once you’re done with one section, you can move to the next until all four are done.

5. Clean the Biting Surfaces, Tongue, and Soft Palate

The biting surfaces on teeth are notorious for holding debris (food particles) while the tongue and soft palate harbouroduor-causing bacteria. Be gentle as you clean the biting surface, tongue and soft palate using back and forth motions.

6. Floss

Flossing can help remove food particles and plaque from spaces that brushes don’t reach. Once you’re done brushing, consider flossing. Hold the floss between your forefingers and thumbs and gently guide it between your teeth. Curve the floss against your tooth the minute it touches your gumline. 

7. Rinse Your Mouth

Next, rinse your mouth with water and an antiseptic mouthwash. Mouthwash may help remove germs and any lingering food particles.

8. Clean Your Toothbrush

Caring for your toothbrush will increase longevity and maintain its integrity. Rinse off the brush to remove toothpaste or debris and store it in an upright position in its storage unit.

Extra Tips

  • Always wait 30 minutes to one hour after meals or drinking acidic foods before you brush your teeth. This is because the acid level is very high while you’re eating which weakens the enamel. By waiting a while, your saliva will be able to create an alkaline environment and remineralise the tooth enamel. Try chewing sugar-free gum after a meal and before you brush. 
  • Don’t hold the brush too long next to your gumline as the rotation of the brush can lead to gum recession over time.
  • Avoid covering the toothbrush head as this can encourage bacteria growth.
  • Electric toothbrush bristles wear out in time. If they start falling out or the colour begins to fade, it’s time to replace the tip with a brand new one.
  • Toothpaste and mouthwashes that contain alcohol may damage your tooth enamel; opt for alcohol-free products.


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Do I need to floss if I use an electric toothbrush?

Electric toothbrushes are effective, but they may not be able to reach and remove every food article or plaque in-between teeth. It’s these hard to reach spaces that floss tackles. Some dental care experts recommend flossing before brushing for a cleaner mouth.

About the Author Harry Thompson

Gaining a BSc Honours in building/ property maintenance at the University of Portsmouth Harry went into the field of renovating properties. Along the journey, he has developed a wide variety of home & garden DIY skills such as installing new kitchens and landscaping gardens. Find out more about Harry Thompson.