What Kind of Toothbrush Should I Use?

Never before have we had such a vast selection of toothbrushes to choose from.  Not only are our pharmacy and grocery store shelves packed with different options; we also have online markets offering countless toothbrushes of all shapes and sizes.  Most toothbrushes use specific marketing claims to attract prospective buyers.  While we will not endorse or recommend any specific brands or models, we want to give you a few good principles to follow when purchasing a toothbrush.

Bristle-Type: The Most Important Factor

We, as dentists, cannot even understand why companies are still manufacturing medium and hard-bristled toothbrushes.  No one needs to use a toothbrush with bristles that are medium or hard.  No one.  Ever.  The argument we hear from many patients is that they feel like the medium or hard bristles clean the teeth better.  Yes, of course, medium or hard bristles will remove dental plaque.  That is because they will also remove your enamel!

Never ever use a medium or hard-bristled toothbrush.  When searching through available products, look for soft or extra soft.  Dental plaque is soft and sticky.  You can actually remove it with a washcloth.  The problem is that a washcloth cannot get to as many places as toothbrush bristles can.  The bristles clean plaque away from deep grooves and pits or the junctions and overlaps of neighboring teeth.  Soft bristles will remove plaque without damaging your underlying teeth.

Head-Shape: Just a Personal Preference

The heads of toothbrushes can vary in size and shape.  We have no specific recommendations for the head of toothbrushes because it is a personal preference.  If the toothbrush feels too large inside your mouth, consider finding one with a smaller head.  Some adults have very small mouths, and a “normal” toothbrush can feel too big.  You can use a child-sized toothbrush in instances like this.  The toothbrush needs to be comfortable so that you have no excuse for not using it.

In the same way, a large man with a correspondingly large mouth may feel odd using a toothbrush that barely covers one to two teeth at a time.  He may feel more comfortable with a large brush head containing more bristles.  After making sure you have soft bristles, the next most important factor is finding a toothbrush you will actually use.

Electric vs. Manual

The electric versus manual toothbrush debate is a little more complicated.  Research studies show conflicting results about whether one is able to more effectively remove plaque than the other is.  However, dentists agree that due to generally poor brushing technique with a manual toothbrush, an electric toothbrush will benefit most people. 

For example, if you had a person who used the perfect brushing technique with a manual toothbrush, you may find no difference in the plaque removal ability between electric and manual brushes.  However, we know that most people are not perfect brushers.  In fact, most people are lazy brushers, rushing through the routine just to check the box that they did brush their teeth.  For this reason, it is safe to say that everyone will experience better plaque removal and improved oral health by using an electric toothbrush.

Electric toothbrushes have gained popularity, and today there are hundreds of models available for purchase in stores and online.  The prices range from $10 to $200, and it can be difficult to know which one you should purchase.  There will also be a level of comfort associated with electric toothbrushes as some have very large or bulky handles.  Choose a brush with a handle size that suits your personal preferences.

Some electric toothbrushes have relatively hard bristles.  Because electric toothbrushes move so rapidly, you should always select the one with the softest possible bristles.  Ask us for a specific recommendation at your next visit.  We’ll be happy to steer you in the right direction.

More Questions about Toothbrushes?

Ask Dr. Jill, Dr. Cara, Dr. Summer or one of our awesome dental hygienists at your next visit.  Or better yet: call 972-347-1145 today to schedule a visit for your teeth cleaning! 

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