How to Use an Electric Toothbrush
An electric toothbrush can be daunting to use, but certainly not as scary as a lifetime of cavities. Read our quick guide to learn everything you need to know about using an electric toothbrush effectively and efficiently.
When it comes to oral hygiene, there’s a lot you can do to keep your teeth clean, your smile healthy, and your breath smelling fresh. But even with all the whitening strips, mouth rinses, and tongue scrapers out there, the most important thing you can do for your mouth is also among the simplest — brushing your teeth.
As someone who’s dedicated to keeping their mouth healthy, you’ve probably considered investing in an electric toothbrush. There are several benefits to consider, especially compared to a regular manual toothbrush. Going electric can be a great way to give your teeth the complete clean they need every day — but using one can be intimidating.
Luckily, we’ll break down how to use an electric toothbrush and the proper technique in this handy hygiene-hacking guide.
A guide to using an electric toothbrush
So you’ve decided to toss your regular old manual toothbrush and replace it with an electric model. Good for you! But there are a few things you need to know before you power up and start brushing. Here’s a step-by-step guide for using an electric toothbrush to get the best clean possible.
Step 1: Prepare
Unlike manual toothbrushes, electric toothbrushes aren’t just grab-and-go. There are a few steps you need to complete before you can start brushing:
Floss – Dentists (and most likely your mother) recommend that you floss between your teeth at least once a day, and right before you brush is a great time to do it. Flossing can help get rid of tiny remnants of your last meal and loosen plaque buildup, making the brushing more effective.
Charge up – It may seem obvious, but it’s very important that you’ve recently charged your electric toothbrush. Many models have indicator light on the brush handle and can hold a charge for several weeks. Other brushes (like quip) come with an optional brush head and battery subscription so you always have power when you need it.
#quiptip: A charged brush ensures your teeth get the cleansing sonic vibrations they need for a complete clean. A low battery can keep your bristles from working effectively.
Step 2: Load toothpaste
But not just any old toothpaste. Look for an option that has dentist-recommended ingredients, like anticavity fluoride and xylitol, plus a seal of acceptance from the American Dental Association. quip Toothpaste is one option that checks all the boxes and comes in your choice of mint or watermelon flavors (a favorite for kids!)
Run the toothbrush head under a faucet for just a moment to wet the bristles. Squeeze the toothpaste from the tube directly onto the bristles, just as you would when using a manual brush. You don’t need very much — a dollop the size of a pea should do.
#quiptip: Remember not to turn your electric toothbrush on until it’s safely inside your mouth — otherwise, you’ll have more to clean than just your teeth!
Step 3: Brush your teeth
Fun fact: Different toothbrushes call for slightly different directions. Below, we’ll explain how to use quip, a brush with the best features of an electric and a manual toothbrush. Before you get started, be sure to review the specific tips that came with your toothbrush.
Position properly – Position the toothbrush head at a 45-degree angle from your teeth. This will help ensure that you clean not just the entirety of each tooth but also the vital areas along your gum line.
Power up – Remember to turn the toothbrush on once you have it in place. Electric toothbrushes are effective in part because of those vibrating bristles.
Pick a quadrant – Your mouth has four quadrants (top right, top left, bottom right, and bottom left). With your toothbrush on and the bristles in motion, start in one corner of your mouth.
Start brushing –Guide the bristles over your teeth in short back and forth strokes. Linger on each tooth long enough for the vibrations to do their job (about two seconds per tooth), but don’t apply too much force.
Brush for two minutes – Two full minutes of brushing is recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA), which is why most electric toothbrushes (like quip) feature a built-in timer with guiding pulses. This should give you plenty of time to thoroughly clean every nook, cranny, and surface of your teeth.
How to get the most from your clean
Brushing your teeth is the single best thing you can do to promote oral health and take care of your teeth. But there’s a right way — not to mention a host of wrong ways — to go about it. Here are some general tips for brushing your teeth properly, whether you’re using a manual or electric toothbrush.
Tip 1: Brush all sides – When brushing, be sure to focus on all sides of your teeth —not just the sides people see. That means brushing the fronts, backs, and tops (or chewing surfaces) of each tooth.
Tip 2: Avoid rinsing – Depending on what you were taught it might seem counterintuitive to not rinse your mouth with water after brushing. But toothpaste is full of ingredients (like fluoride) that are meant to keep working on your teeth even after you brush. If you absolutely must rinse, try gurgling with a fluoride mouthwash after brushing. This will get rid of the toothpaste taste, kill germs, and freshen your breath.
Tip 3: Change your brush head regularly – Be honest. When’s the last time you replaced your toothbrush or brush head? If you’re like most people, it’s probably been a while. Dentists recommend changing your bristles every 3 months (before they get old and worn out) for the most effective clean. Setting a reminder or subscribing to get brush heads delivered can help automatic your upkeep.
It’s also important to take other steps to protect your teeth, like daily flossing, avoiding foods and drinks that are bad for your teeth, and seeing a dentist regularly.
Why should I use an electric toothbrush?
It’s important to keep in mind that as far as the American Dental Association is concerned, manual toothbrushes are suitably effective when it comes to accomplishing the big tasks that brushing your teeth is supposed to accomplish — namely, removing food and plaque that might cause:
Halitosis (bad breath)
Tooth loss (periodontitis)
That said, there is some evidence that, when used properly, electric toothbrushes can be more effective at accomplishing those tasks. This is largely because of the bristled heads that rotate or vibrate, which can lead to a deeper clean.
In fact, according to one review study, electric toothbrushes have been known to reduce plaque by almost 21% compared to manual toothbrushes, and gingivitis by almost 11%.5
Benefits of using an electric toothbrush
On top of helping you more easily clean those hard-to-reach places at the back of your mouth, electric toothbrushes are also:
Good for kids – For children who haven’t yet mastered the motor skills to properly brush, electric toothbrushes can be an easier option. Many models are designed with kids in mind to make brushing fun. While some brushes use music, lights, and flashy features to guide a complete clean, others sync to a phone app to seamlessly track habits and offer rewards for practicing good oral hygiene.
Better for accessibility – Thanks to vibrating or rotating bristles, electric toothbrushes give you little extra oomph compared to manual toothbrushes. They can also be helpful for people with mobility issues or joint issues like arthritis or carpal tunnel.
Better for orthodontics – Electric toothbrushes can also give people with orthodontic appliances like braces an easier path to an effective clean.
Better for your gums and teeth – Certain studies suggest that electric toothbrushes can also help prevent gum recession and tooth decay more effectively than manual toothbrushes.
quip — For a cleaner, healthier mouth
If you’re thinking about switching from a traditional toothbrush to an electric powered brush, quip is an affordable and effective option. quip Electric Toothbrushes combine sleek design with easy-to-use features, like soft bristles and timed sonic vibrations to help you brush for two minutes. Plus, optional subscriptions start at $5 and deliver fresh brush heads every 3 months – the schedule recommended by the American Dental Association.
For the little ones, quip offers kid-friendly brushes with super-graspable rubber handles and child-sized brush heads. You can also upgrade to a Smart Electric Toothbrush that syncs to the free quip app, making it easy for adults and children to learn and maintain good brushing habits.