How do you decide which toothbrush to use?

Can the whole family use the same kind of toothbrush?
Can the whole family use the same kind of toothbrush?

We make so many choices throughout the course of our lifetime. Like whether we should be on Team Coke or Team Pepsi. But some choices require a little more research to make the best decision. For example, if you are planning to just run into your local drug store to purchase a "simple" toothbrush, what do you do when you find yourself greeted with rows and rows of brushes in various sizes, shapes, styles and colors? All of this for 32 teeth? Sheesh!

But selecting the right toothbrush is not a trivial matter. In fact, it's important for your overall health to choose a brush that gets your mouth clean and keeps it healthy. That's why we're here to help you decide how to select a toothbrush so next time you walk into the drugstore, you'll be OK with knowing that the purple polka dot toothbrush with kittens all over may be actually good for your teeth.


The Best Type of Toothbrush

It's a well-known fact that good oral hygiene goes beyond keeping your pearly whites white. It also involves decreasing your risk of gum disease, which is linked to the development of conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

So what type of toothbrush should you choose? Some people make the mistake of thinking it's best to choose their toothbrush the same way they would choose a cleaning brush: the harder the bristles, the better. But unlike your floors, your mouth will be happy by your choice of a toothbrush with softer nylon bristles. Most dental professionals feel that a soft-bristled brush is best for removing plaque and debris from your teeth [source: Colgate].

Your toothbrush's purpose is to clean your teeth, not make your gums bleed. Hard bristles can damage and irritate the gums, root surface and enamel. Medium nylon bristles are obviously better than hard bristles, but they're not ideal if you're a vigorous tooth-brusher. Softer bristles are also better for baby and children's teeth.

Size matters in a brush too. Toothbrushes with small heads are better because they can reach every crook and cranny inside your mouth, including back teeth that can be hard to reach. It's also good to find toothbrushes with bristles that have rounded tips to protect your teeth and gums and of course, select one that fits well inside your hand [source: 1-800-Dentist].

If you wear braces, you'll find toothbrushes on the market designed to remove food and plaque around the brackets. These types of brushes are specially angled for the bristles to go inside the braces.

Manual vs. Electric

Another debate is whether to use an electric toothbrush or a manual one. Some argue that electric toothbrushes get your teeth cleaner because they simulate the brushing motion on their own and add an extra vibration similar to the type of cleaning you get from your dental hygienist. However, the truth is either an electric or disposable brush is good to use as long as you brush your teeth on a regular basis and use a good technique [source: WebMd]. This means brushing for two minutes with the toothbrush held at a 45-degree angle against the gums [source: American Dental Association]. For the elderly and the physically disabled, electric toothbrushes are perfect because less power is needed for brushing.

Regardless of which brush you choose, remember that longevity is not your mouth's friend. Replace your toothbrush every three months or when it shows signs of wear and tear. If you have a cold, it's also advisable to get a new toothbrush after you get well so you don't keep reinfecting yourself.


Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • 1-800-DENTIST. "How To Brush Teeth". (August 28, 2011)
  • 1-800-DENTIST. "How To Pick a Toothbrush". (August 28, 2011)
  • American Dental Association. "A Look at Toothbrushes". (August 28, 2011)
  • American Dental Association. "Cleaning Your Teeth and Gums". (August 28, 2011)
  • American Dental Hygienists' Association. "Fluoride Facts". (September 7, 2011).
  • Animated Teeth. "Electric Toothbrushes -- Applications and Safety Concerns". (August 28, 2011).
  • Colgate Oral and Dental Health Resource Center. "Bringing Teeth into Alignment With Orthodontic Treatment". (September 5, 2011)
  • Colgate Oral and Dental Health Resource Center. "Choosing the Right Toothbrush". (August 28, 2011)
  • Colgate Oral and Dental Health Resource Center. "How To Brush". (September 5, 2011)
  • Kids Health. "Taking Care of Your Teeth". (September 7, 2011)
  • Oral B. "Power Toothbrush or Manual Toothbrush". (September 12, 2011)
  • Pitner Orthodontics & Braces. "Pediatric Dental Care". (September 5, 2011)
  • WebMD. "The Choosing a Toothbrush: The Pros and Cons of Electric and Disposable". (August 28, 2011)
  • WebMD. "The Truth About Health Teeth: Your Guide to at-Home Dental Care". (August 28, 2011)
  • Wellsworth, Judy."Toothbrushes Designed For Braces.'' Preferred Consumer. (September 12, 2011)