Picking Your Ideal Toothbrush

August 18, 2017
picking the ideal toothbrush

There’s arguably nothing as attractive as a healthy smile. But many of us take our toothbrush for granted. We go to the store and pick one that’s on sale or has our favorite color. But, have you ever wondered what the ideal toothbrush is for you? Are electric toothbrushes superior over manual ones? Are soft bristles more effective than hard ones for eliminating plaque?

Here at AZ Family Dental, we can help you to make an informed and healthy choice if you’re asking questions like: “how to pick my toothbrush?” and “what is the best non-electric toothbrush?” There are so many options to choose from that finding the right brush may seem like climbing an uphill mountain. In this guide to choosing your ideal toothbrush, we look at what ones might work best for you and why.

Why the Ideal Toothbrush Matters

You can’t overestimate the importance of good oral hygiene practices. Did you know that gum disease is one of the major risk factors for developing chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease? Other crucial reasons for using the right toothbrush include:

  • Removing plaque from your teeth.
  • Getting rid of any harmful bacteria that promote gum disease.
  • Stimulating your gums.

The right toothbrush helps keep your teeth and gums healthy. By using it, you should find that:

  • Bad breath isn’t a consistent issue.
  • Teeth are free of debris.
  • Gums do not bleed or hurt when you brush.
  • Gums that are pink.

The most important thing you can do for your gums and teeth is to maintain a good standard of oral hygiene. Healthy teeth make it easier to speak and eat properly — and look and feel good too.

Types of Toothbrushes

There are two main types of toothbrushes — manual and powered.

  • Manual toothbrushes are the regular kinds that you can buy from the store and that don’t contain batteries. According to Statista, in 2011, 117.95 million U.S. citizens used a medium bristle manual toothbrush.
  • Powered toothbrushes are more expensive than their manual counterparts. They’re particularly useful for people with dexterity problems. For example, children, the elderly and people with disabilities find that powered toothbrushes require less effort to use than their manual counterparts.

Also, individuals who wear dental appliances could find a powered toothbrush easier to use. There is a variety of powered toothbrushes on the market. Many of these use different types of head movement, including:

  • Circular
  • Side-to-side
  • Rotating
  • Counter oscillation
  • Ultrasonic or Vibrating

Is An Electric Toothbrush Better Than A Manual Toothbrush?

Studies have shown that both electric and manual toothbrushes are effective when used correctly. In fact, there is no significant difference between the two. An electric toothbrush is often a better choice for the reasons stated in the previous section. Also, if you brush your teeth aggressively and are potentially damaging your teeth and gums, electric is a better choice.

Toothbrush Effectiveness Factors

Let’s look at the most crucial factors to consider when choosing a toothbrush.


A soft-bristled toothbrush is the type of toothbrush bristle recommended by the ADA. It also is usually the most comfortable for your mouth.  A soft-bristled toothbrush is also typically the best choice if you have weak enamel (outer layer of the tooth), sensitive gums, or wear braces or a retainer.

Hard-bristled brushes (and some medium-bristled ones) may cause irreversible damage to your gums and wear away tooth enamel, especially if you brush vigorously.


Consider the shape of a toothbrush head before you purchase it. Some shapes will suit your mouth better than others. Don’t choose a brush that’s too wide or too large as it might not be able to reach the back of your mouth comfortably. When you’re brushing your teeth, take a look in the mirror. Ensure your brush reaches every tooth. If it doesn’t, purchase a new toothbrush.


Ensure your toothbrush handle fits comfortably in your hand and doesn’t slip. You don’t want to injure your mouth. You can choose from the following handle styles:

ADA Acceptance

Only buy a toothbrush that has the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. You then can be assured that independent scientific experts have objectively evaluated your chosen brush. Seal of Acceptance qualifying factors include:

  • The bristles don’t shed with normal use.
  • The bristles have no jagged or sharp edges.
  • The toothbrush components are safe for use in the mouth.
  • The handle is durable.
  • The toothbrush can be used by the average adult without supervision to provide a significant decrease in plaque and mild gum disease.

The ADA evaluates powered toothbrushes for:

  • Tuft retention
  • Chemical resistance
  • Electrical safety
  • Mechanical strength

Also, powered brushes are clinically studied to demonstrate that they’re safe for use in the mouth.


It’s crucial to use a brush that feels comfortable in your mouth. Soft bristles are best for most teeth, and the toothbrush head should not be too large.


A good toothbrush doesn’t need to cost lots of money. But, you should steer clear of unbranded dollar-store brushes, particularly if they don’t have the ADA seal of acceptance.  They may seem like a bargain, but might not be. The toothbrush could be made from unsafe, inferior materials. It could come from a manufacturer who isn’t safety conscious. The brush might also be ineffective.

Remember, you’re putting your toothbrush in your mouth twice a day. It’s therefore worth paying a little more for one that comes from a reputable manufacturer.

Function and Effectiveness

A good toothbrush cleans your teeth properly and effectively removes plaque.

Choosing The Best Toothbrush for Children

Keep in mind that a baby needs a toothbrush with a small head that fits comfortably into a tiny mouth. Children need smaller toothbrushes with larger easier to grip handles than adults.

Picking out a brightly colored and fun-looking toothbrush goes a long way to encourage your child to use it regularly. Some brushes may feature cartoon characters, and others even play music that helps your child know how long to brush. There are many different electric and disposable options available for younger mouths.

You should always help young children to brush their teeth. Ask the dentists here at AZ Family Dental in Glendale, AZ to give them a lesson on brushing if your child seems reticent about looking after their teeth. Remember, too to replace their brush at least every three months, possibly more often if they’re hard on it. And, always choose a brush with the ADA Seal of Approval.

Choosing the Best Toothbrush for Adults

Opt for soft bristles and a head size that comfortably fits your mouth when you’re choosing your toothbrush. Again, the ADA recommends that you use a soft-bristled toothbrush, and it’s also usually the best choice if you have specific considerations, such as sensitive gums or teeth, weak tooth enamel, or wear braces or a retainer.

If you’re in doubt about choosing the right brush for you or your child, speak to the AZ Family Dental dentists and ask for a recommendation. As an established practice with a 40+ year history, we provide our patients with excellent care, including advice on choosing the best toothbrush.  And remember that even though you’re using an ideal toothbrush at home, it’s essential to see our dentist twice a year for a dental exam and professional teeth cleaning. Our well-trained staff offers a full array of dental services from cleanings to wisdom tooth removal.

How To Brush

You’ve been brushing your teeth for a long time now. But, are you sure you’re doing it effectively?

The ADA recommends that you brush for two minutes twice daily with fluoride toothpaste. Brushing for this amount of time has been proven to remove plaque well. The use of fluoride toothpaste remineralizes your teeth and reduces your risk of caries.

The ADA provides the following guidelines for good brushing:

  • Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums.
  • Move it gently backward and forward in short strokes.
  • Brush all the surfaces of your teeth, including outsides, insides, and chewing surfaces.
  • Use your brush vertically in an up-and-down motion to clean the inside surface of your front teeth.
  • Finally, brush your tongue to keep your mouth feeling fresh and bacteria-free.

For a visual demonstration of proper brushing, refer to our instructional videos on “How to Properly Brush and Floss.”

Do’s and Don’ts with Picking Your Ideal Toothbrush

Take a look at these do’s and don’ts for now you know more about picking the best toothbrush for you:

  • Do choose a brush that will do the job. Do your mouth and teeth feel clean after brushing?
  • Don’t buy a brush simply because it’s on sale. You may love a bargain, but in terms of healthy oral hygiene, you need to choose a brush that you know will clean your teeth well. Similarly, don’t buy a brush just for the color or aesthetics.
  • Do purchase the right-size brush for your children. Take your kids to the store to select a toothbrush. Make choosing the best toothbrush fun. Allow them to pick from brushes you feel are suitable. Reward them by buying some kids toothpaste along with their brush. Teach them good brushing habits from a young age. These will stay with them for life.
  • Don’t be worried about trying a powered toothbrush. You may have used a manual brush your entire life, but don’t be reluctant to try something new. Brushing your teeth with a manual toothbrush can be a tedious task. You might not be brushing for as long as you should. You may not be doing as thorough a job of cleaning your teeth as you once did. If any of these brushing mistakes apply to you or if you have difficulty using a manual toothbrush, consider a powered model. Children who dislike brushing their teeth may enjoy a powered one better.

Tips on Properly Maintaining Your Toothbrush

Your toothbrush can wear down rapidly and can even harbor germs and bacteria if you don’t take good care of it. Bacteria and viruses from a person’s mouth can live for weeks on a toothbrush, continuing to cause ill health. Toothbrushes can sometimes harbor fecal coliform bacteria that’s been released into the air when you flush the toilet or touch a contaminated surface before you brush.

It’s even possible for healthy, normal microorganisms to create infection when they enter your gum tissue due to an ulcer or injury. Toothbrushes are not required to be sold in sterile packaging, so could harbor bacteria before use.

You might not give lots of thought to cleaning your toothbrush as you wet it and use it daily. But you can’t effectively clean your teeth is your brush is ineffective, dirty and worn. Follow the below tips to properly maintain your toothbrush.

  • Wash your hands. Your hand can harbor many germs that can transfer onto anything you touch. Wash your hands thoroughly before you brush to minimize the risk of getting these on your toothbrush and into your mouth.
  • Never share your toothbrush. The ADA recommends you should never share your toothbrush with anyone. Doing this can result in microorganism and body fluid exchanges between users. You could be placing yourself at an increased infection risk. If you have an existing infectious disease or a  compromised immune system, you should be particularly aware of this.
  • Always rinse your toothbrush. Rinse your toothbrush well with tap water after you brush. You need to ensure that you completely remove remaining debris and toothpaste.  You may want to soak your brush in antibacterial mouthwash if you have an immune disorder or a systemic illness.
  • Try deep cleaning. To ensure your brush is completely germ-free, you can use toothbrush sanitizer from time to time.
  • Allow your toothbrush to dry naturally. Always store your toothbrush in an upright position and allow it to air dry after use. Circulating air helps prevent your brush from going moldy and from growing bacteria in a wet, enclosed environment.
  • Never regularly store toothbrushes in closed containers. Using a toothbrush cover is okay if you need to store your toothbrush when you’re on vacation for a few days. You should never do this routinely though as a moist environment is perfect for microorganisms to grow.
  • Replace your toothbrush regularly. It’s good practice to replace your toothbrush every three to four months. As the bristles become worn and frayed, the effectiveness of your brush is reduced. Get into the habit of checking your toothbrush regularly for signs of wear. You may need to replace your brush for frequently than every three or four months. Bear in mind that kid’s toothbrushes often need to be replaced more frequently than adult ones. Children tend to be harder on their brushes than adults. Also, they may tend to chew on the bristles.
  • Separate toothbrushes. Keep all toothbrushes separated to prevent cross-contamination if you store more than one brush in the same area.

Now that you know what to look for in an ideal toothbrush, know that the best toothbrush for you is the one you use every day. You might not enjoy the vibration of a powered toothbrush. On the other hand, you may find that you want to get in there and do the job yourself with a manual toothbrush. Regardless of your preference, when you enjoy using your toothbrush and see consistent results, your smile will remain healthy and bright for a long time to come.

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