Updated: 2/6/2020 If you’ve ever walked down the dental hygiene aisle at the grocery store, then you know that there are many different options of toothbrushes available. Choices like electric,…


How to Choose a Toothbrush

Updated: 2/6/2020

If you’ve ever walked down the dental hygiene aisle at the grocery store, then you know that there are many different options of toothbrushes available. Choices like electric, manual, flexible handle, narrow head and more make for a difficult decision in the toothbrush buying process, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for. How do you know what the best toothbrush is for you? Are certain toothbrushes better than others? If you’re looking for a new toothbrush, keep reading for some tips on how to make the decision that’s right for you.

Choosing a Toothbrush

When looking for a toothbrush, there are two main things to take into consideration: the size of the head and the hardness of the bristles. For size, it’s important that the brush can easily access all surfaces of the teeth. Most adults use a head half an inch wide and 1 inch tall. Bigger toothbrushes are available, but may be harder to use and prevent the brush from effectively reaching all the teeth. If you’re unsure of what brush size to get, look for an age recommendation on the package. Getting a toothbrush that is age specific will help ensure that it’s the right size for you.

Toothbrushes also come with different types of bristles: hard, medium, and soft. Most people find the soft bristles to be the most comfortable. Soft bristles are also recommended by dentists as medium and hard bristles can damage the gums and enamel. In addition to using a brush with soft bristles, try to find bristles that are round-tipped as well. This will be the safest and most comfortable option.

Electric vs. Manual

A common question many people have when buying a new toothbrush is whether or not an electric toothbrush is more effective than a manual toothbrush. The truth is that both manual and electric toothbrushes are equally effective in cleaning teeth. The real difference is in the ease of use – electric toothbrushes are somewhat easier to use. Electric toothbrushes are also often preferred by children, because they’re more fun to use, so you may consider going the electric route if your child needs some encouragement brushing.

Other Considerations

When buying a toothbrush, there are other factors you may want to consider as well.


  • Straight: toothbrushes with straight handles are easy to control
  • Angled: angled handles assist in reaching hard to clean areas
  • Non-slip grip: prevents the toothbrush from slipping while brushing
  • Flexible: flexible handles help reduce gum injury from over brushing

Head Shape

  • Conventional/rectangular: effectively reaches every tooth
  • Tapered/diamond: narrower and easier to reach posterior teeth

Bristle Style

  • Flat: all bristles are the same length
  • Rippled/wavy/V-shaped: better contact with areas around the tooth
  • Multilevel trim: reaches hard to clean areas
  • “Polishing up”: helpful in removing surface stains

Toothbrush handles, head shapes, and bristle styles all serve different purposes, so no one is better than another. These choices should be based on personal preference.

Top Electric Toothbrushes

If you decide to go for an electric toothbrush, check out one from this list of top electric toothbrushes from About.com.

  1. Phillips Sonicare Elite Electronic Toothbrush System: With two different speeds, two types of heads, and a built in timer, many sources agree that this is the best toothbrush you can get because of its ease of use.
  2. Oral-B 4000 ProfessionalCare SmartSeries Electric Toothbrush: This toothbrush also comes with a built-in timer, and has four different modes with pulsating and oscillating actions. It’s also rechargeable, so you don’t have to deal with the hassle of batteries.
  3. Cybersonic 3 Electric Brush: This toothbrush is the only dental tool you need! It includes two brush types, tongue cleaning, sonic floss, a breath freshener, and even tooth bleaching. It’s also known to be the fastest electric toothbrush in the world.
  4. Waterpik Sensonic Professional Toothbrush SR – 1000: Specially designed to be gentle yet powerful, this toothbrush removes plaque in a way that increases efficiency and decreases inconvenience.
  5. Oral-B CrossAction Power Electric Toothbrush: Highly effective in removing stains in addition to plaque, this toothbrush also comes with a specially designed head that helps keep toothpaste on the brush.

You may also want to look for a toothbrush with ADA Seal of Approval to ensure an effective toothbrush. Toothbrushes should be replaced every three months or once they are worn out. If you have any questions about what kind of toothbrush to use, talk to your dentist. They will be able to best determine which type of toothbrush would best fit your dental needs.

  1. Thanks for pointing out that there are toothbrushes with flexible handles to lower the risk of gum injury from brushing too hard. I have a tendency to brush with too much pressure, and I didn’t know there was a toothbrush out there to help with the problem. I’ll definitely be getting a toothbrush with a flexible handle soon!

  2. I have learned so much from this article. I have never paid much attention when buying a toothbrush and just picked one with my favorite color! With so many different options, each with its own merits, i am thinking I should be getting one of each and use a different one each day, so as to be able to thoroughly clean my teeth! Thanks for sharing the article!

  3. Electric tooth brushes are not good. I always choose others. Brushes have four kinds, hard, medium, soft, dental tooth paste. I choose dental or soft. Both are nice for my teeths.

  4. Use a very soft bristle toothbrush if you have sensitivity to avoid toothbrush abrasion and the wearing away of gums.

  5. “Soft bristles are also recommended by dentists as medium and hard bristles can damage the gums and enamel.”

    Most people don’t realize they can actually do damage if they brush the wrong way! You don’t need to attack your teeth like you do your stove in order to get and keep them clean. Some electric toothbrushes will shut off if you brush too hard.

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