How to use an electric toothbrush: a step by step guide

Do you really need any instructions on how to use an electric toothbrush? The answer is yes absolutely! Although these brushes have been available for a while, there are now many different types on the market, ranging from battery-powered to rechargeable electric toothbrushes. Knowing how to use these brushes properly will help you better your oral care routine.

In this article, we will guide you through the brushing process, including how many minutes of brushing is necessary and the proper technique to use. 

Before deciding to change your regular toothbrush, go through the things you need to know when you use an electric toothbrush, so you can make an informed decision. 

How to use an electric toothbrush

Using an electric toothbrush is pretty easy, some say even easier than a manual toothbrush. Nevertheless, we are going to give you a simple guide on how to use an electric toothbrush.

  1. Make sure your electric toothbrush is fully charged. If you have a battery-operated version check the batteries to be new and fresh.
  2. When your electric brush is ready to use put a dab of toothpaste on the brush and start.
  3. Be gentle and do not put too much pressure on your teeth. Some electronic toothbrushes have a built-in pressure sensor that would warn you if you are applying too much pressure.
  4. Keep your toothbrush head at a 45-degree angle against your gumline.
  5. Divide and conquer! Divide your mouth into four quadrants and brush each quadrant at least for 30 seconds.
  6. After you are done brushing your chewing surfaces, brush your tongue as well.
  7. When you are finished, clean your toothbrush head with water.

How long to brush your teeth with an electric toothbrush?

Whether you are using a smart toothbrush or a manual one, the whole process of your brushing routine should take at least about 2 minutes. And of course, your brushing process should be done with proper technique.

Most smart brushes typically come with a built-in two-minute timer that can alert you when your brushing time is up. Smart brushes would vibrate in a different way to indicate the end of the two minutes. If your smart toothbrush comes with an app you can also use the app to check your brushing duration as well.

So now that we have figured out the brushing time, let’s talk about how to clean and take care of your brush.

How to clean an electric toothbrush?

Cleaning your electronic toothbrushes is simple and it would not take that long. First, let’s talk about how to clean electric toothbrush heads. Then we will get to how to keep the electric toothbrush base clean.

  1. After brushing, detach the head from the brush.
  2. Rinse the head with water until it is clean.
  3. Shake the brush head to remove the excess water

And now you have a clean toothbrush head. Next is your electric toothbrush handle.

  1. Use a wet paper towel to wipe the handle.
  2. Make sure your clean toothbrush head and handle are pretty much dry.
  3. Assemble your electronic toothbrush.

If your brush’s charging base is dirty here is what you can do. Make sure the base is unplugged then use a wet paper towel or cloth to wipe away any stains or gunk from the base. Do not rinse it with water! No recharge base model should be rinsed with water or get wet. 

If you follow these steps you will end up with a clean brush that is ready for future brushing sessions.

How to store an electric toothbrush

The way you store your brush is very important. It will ensure that your toothbrush will work for a long time without losing its integrity. Now, let us give you some tips on “how to store an electric toothbrush”:

Let it dry out: Before putting your brush in a cupboard, in its travel case, or snapping the cover on the toothbrush head make sure it is air-dried. This will prevent your brush heads from being a breeding ground for bacteria and mold.

Cool down: Even the slightest amount of moisture can cause mold if there is heat. So, store your electric toothbrush in a cool place. That also means no direct sunlight as well.

Distancing: If you are storing your toothbrush in the bathroom other than the tips above, make sure your brush heads are at least 1 meter away from the toilet. Flushing can cause bacteria to fly and sit on your toothbrush!

Not waterproof: Most rechargeable toothbrushes might not be waterproof. So keep your rechargeable electronic toothbrushes and charger away from water to have them work properly.

How often should you change your electric toothbrush head?

To be able to maintain a healthy mouth and healthy teeth you should replace your brush head every 3 to 4 months. There are many brush head options but make sure you are getting the right fit for your brush, otherwise, you will end up with an ineffective toothbrush.

How long does an electric toothbrush last?

Electric toothbrushes are more like a long-term investment. You might ask well “how long does an electric toothbrush last anyway?” Companies that make these costly brushes say that they last anywhere from 3 to 5 years whether battery-powered brushes or electric ones. That is why it is important to do your research before switching from manual brushing.

What are the pros and cons of using an electric toothbrush?

Before discussing the benefits and drawbacks of the electric toothbrush, let’s first review why we brush our teeth in the first place.

The simple answer is to remove plaque buildup and food debris of course. Well, we can name a few things that make you prefer to use an electric one. We’ll explore the pros and cons of electric toothbrushes. First, here are the sunshine and rainbows, which are the pros:

Pros of using an electric toothbrush

Well, we can name a few things that make you prefer to use an electric one, such as its effectiveness, range of motion, and advanced technological features.

  1. Efficiency: Scientists have done studies on the effectiveness of an electric toothbrush in plaque removal. The results show that the way an electric toothbrush head moves and its speed is really effective in removing plaque and tartar buildup, especially from hard-to-reach places in your mouth. The difference in the effectiveness of dental plaque removal is noticeable.
  2. Motions: The range of motion or brushstrokes per minute (BPM) you can get from electric brush heads is way more than a normal toothbrush. The oscillating brush head moves in a circular motion and the sonic head vibrates to clean your teeth. This makes it easier to take care of your oral health.
  3. Usage: Since with an electric toothbrush there is less need to put pressure and brush your teeth it is more suitable for people with mobility issues and disabilities. These rechargeable brushes would make oral health more inclusive.

Cons of using an electric toothbrush

Of course, it is not all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to using an electric toothbrush. There are a few specks of cloud here and there too.

  1. Price: There is a variation of prices for power toothbrushes and they are more expensive than normal toothbrushes. You also have to get replacement brush heads which can be pricier than manual brushes. 
  2. Pressure: Most people might not be used to power toothbrushes and could end up aggressively brushing their teeth. This can lead to gum recession in the long run.

What should you know while using an electric toothbrush?

There are a few things you should know while using an electric toothbrush.

Replacing: You should get replacement heads. The same rule of replacing your toothbrush applies to an electric one as well. You can find a range of brush heads to choose from whether for sensitive teeth or gum health.

No pressure: You only need to put light pressure when using an electric-powered toothbrush. Aggressive brushing with any type of toothbrush can damage your teeth and gums. There are some smart toothbrushes that come with a pressure indicator to better adjust your brushing technique.


– Thomassen TMJA, Van der Weijden FGA, Slot DE. The efficacy of powered toothbrushes: A systematic review and network meta-analysis. Int J Dent Hyg. 2022 Feb;20(1):3-17. doi: 10.1111/idh.12563. Epub 2021 Dec 31. PMID: 34877772; PMCID: PMC9303421. Link