Electric toothbrushes, sometimes called power toothbrushes, claim to clean better than manual brushes by facilitating more brush strokes per minute and creating toothpaste lather, which gets between your teeth for enhanced cleaning. They may also have a timer to ensure you’re not shortcutting your tooth brushing routine.
Proven to gently remove plaque and stains from coffee, tea, red wine, and tobacco, electric toothbrushes also help naturally whiten teeth and improve gum health. Most electric toothbrushes are safe for use with braces, dental work, implants, and sensitive teeth—but check the box to make sure one is right for you. And remember that good oral hygiene starts with a good brushing routine. Dentists recommend brushing your teeth twice daily for about two minutes.
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Tips for Buying an Electric Toothbrush
To choose the right electric toothbrush, keep in mind the following features beyond price:
- Sonic vs. oscillating/rotating electric toothbrushes. Both types of electric toothbrush are effective at removing plaque and stains from teeth, but they work in different ways. A sonic toothbrush vibrates the brush head back and forth, while an oscillating electric toothbrush rotates part of the brush head. The main difference is in the number of brush strokes per minute: an oscillating brush ranges from 3,000 to 8,000 strokes per minute, while sonic toothbrushes boast 20,000 to 40,000 (which is why they usually claim a higher price tag). Either type of electric toothbrush is an improvement over manual brushing, which is said to be around 300 strokes per minute.
- Replacement brush head choices. Just like a manual toothbrush, plan to replace the brush heads on your electric toothbrush every three months or whenever the bristles appear worn. Choose an electric toothbrush that offers the replacement brush head options you need—for sensitive teeth, deep cleaning, whitening, and so on.
- Consider rechargeable toothbrushes. To avoid regular battery replacement, use a rechargeable electric toothbrush. Check the label for how long it can operate before requiring a recharge in the charging station. Less expensive models operate on AA batteries which need to be replaced regularly. The box should tell you how long to expect the batteries to last with standard use.
- Kid-friendly options. Help your kids have healthy teeth and gums by using an electric toothbrush just for them. Kid-friendly brushes include age-appropriate brush heads (in size and shape), power modes for different ages and mouth sizes, anti-roll shapes to make storing and putting on toothpaste easier, and ergonomic grips for little hands. Some electric toothbrushes even include fun music on a two-minute timer to help them get the right amount of brushing each time.
- Color and design matters. Since it will likely sit on your bathroom counter, choose an electric toothbrush that you find attractive. Or if you don’t want to look at it all the time, find an easy-to-access storage location. If several people in your house want electric toothbrushes, consider buying one with multiple handles on a single charging station to save space.
- Extra electric toothbrush features. To ensure you get your dentist recommended two-minute brushing time, many electric toothbrushes feature timers. More advanced models offer different power modes for deep cleaning, whitening, and sensitive teeth. Other options include battery indicator light and noise-reducing features. If you plan to travel with your electric toothbrush, look for one that comes with a carrying case and multi-voltage travel charger.
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