Your mouth is unique and there are so many brands, shapes, sizes and types of toothbrushes available. These factors combined can often lead to confusion over which one is ideal for you. The flashiest, biggest, most expensive doesn’t necessarily equate to the best toothbrush!
This guide is here to give you tips on what to look for in a good brush. But as always, if in doubt, ask your dentist or hygienist for advice on what the ideal product for your needs might be.
“The Best Toothbrush”: Guidelines
In general, a brush should fit the following guidelines:
- Size. The size of the head is important. Generally speaking, a small head is preferable. Small heads allow you to better reach all the different areas in the mouth. Conversely, having a large bristled head does not mean better cleaning, as it can make it harder for the bristles to get into the spaces between the teeth.
- Handle. Ensure that it feels comfortable to hold with a light grip.
- Bristles. Do not use a hard (‘firm’) brush (unless your dentist recommends otherwise). Hard bristles can, over time, lead to gum recession and abrasion. Soft or medium bristles are generally better and are sufficient to remove plaque. You may feel you are cleaning better with firm bristles but this is not the case.
- Multi-tufted toothbrushes. Bristle groups of different length can help to best clean the awkward places. Many of the best manual toothbrush choices have these.
- Flexible angle. If you tend to scrub too hard, a handle angle that bends may help reduce harm to the teeth and gums. ’Over-brushing’ your teeth can lead to problems in the long-term.
- Children obviously should be given smaller brushes. Most kids’ versions have the appropriate age on the label. See our guide on brushing kid’s teeth for more advice.
- Look for a seal of approval from one of your country’s dental organizations, to ensure you get a dentist recommended toothbrush..
You may benefit from a ‘specialized’ toothbrush. There are a variety of brushes available to best suit specific needs including:
- Extra-soft bristled for people with sensitive teeth or receding gums
- Models with large handles for people with dexterity problems.
Should you choose an electric type over a disposable one? If you are properly using a normal ‘manual’ (i.e. non-electric) toothbrush, this should be sufficient. However the evidence does suggest that using a powered, electronic toothbrush leads to better plaque removal and therefore better cleaning.
Technology includes the rotation oscillation toothbrush (like the Oral B ranges) and the ultrasonic type like Philips’ Sonicare range. n.b. Oral B and Sonicare perform consistently well in comsumer reports.
These take a lot of the ‘work’ out of brushing. All one has to do is ensure they get the brush into all the right areas!
Electric toothbrushes also have these extra benefits:
- Reduced chance of damaging the teeth and gums from over-brushing
- Some have timers to ensure you spend enough time brushing, an important factor in getting the teeth fully cleaned!!
- Many feel they get a better clean with electric
- Makes brushing easier for some, so you may be more likely to clean effectively
- Useful if you suffer with dexterity problems
- Some better models have heads that are specifically designed to help with otherwise awkward cleaning situations. For example, for those wearing orthodontic appliances or those with severe gum disease
- The ‘novelty factor’ may encourage children and teenagers to clean better if they have an electric brush. Every piece of leverage can help!
There are a variety of types available, but studies show that those with either a oscillating, rotating action or an ultrasonic type are the top performers. Generally speaking, the more you spend the better the brush, in terms of sturdiness and quality. More expensive models are also more likely to have helpful features such as timers. You don’t need to buy the most expensive, however, to get the main benefits of using an electric brush. But very cheap versions are unlikely to give any great benefit.
Click here for our advice on the best electric toothbrushes.
So, What’s the “The Ideal Toothbrush” for You?
It is not really of critical importance for most people whether or not they use an electric toothbrush. But using one can certainly be of benefit to some people. With a huge variety of different types available you may need some experimenting to find your ‘ideal’ toothbrush. The factors outlined above can help you best decide on what may suit your needs.
What is important is making sure you use the toothbrush effectively and spend long enough each day cleaning your teeth.
For both types of toothbrush (regular and electric), when the head wears out you will not be able to clean your teeth properly. Worn-out heads can also damage the gums. The advice is to replace the brush/head every three months. Look for signs of damage on the head. If the bristles are becoming splayed, replace it.