7 Things to Consider Before Buying Your Toothbrush

Brushing teeth together

The American Dental Association recommends replacing your toothbrush or brush head every three to four months or sooner if the bristles begin to wear out or you experience a bacterial illness. Most people simply replace their brush with a new one of the same style, but what if you’re looking to make a change?


There are so many varieties of toothbrushes available these days that choosing the best one to keep your smile in top shape can be a difficult task. Read on to learn about seven important considerations you should keep in mind when purchasing a new toothbrush.

Powered or Manual?

The first thing to consider when buying a toothbrush is whether to get a manual toothbrush or a powered one. A manual toothbrush is the regular toothbrush that you know and love, powered by nothing more than your own hand. A powered or electric toothbrush, on the other hand, uses a battery and motor to rotate the bristles and clean your teeth with more precision and less work.

Powered toothbrushes have been growing in popularity with new options available to suit any budget. The cheaper versions go for only a few dollars, while top-end toothbrushes can cost several hundred and sport features like Bluetooth connectivity and apps that track your brushing habits. Although the American Dental Association has stated that manual toothbrushes are just as effective as powered toothbrushes when used properly, these high-tech dental hygiene tools do have some advantages.

Children, the elderly and people with disabilities often find that powered toothbrushes are more effective and easier to use. However, if you’re good at brushing your teeth the old-fashioned way, you can save some money by going with a manual toothbrush. Your dentist will even give you one for free when you come in for a cleaning.

Are You Concerned About the Environment?

If you’re committed to living a green lifestyle, there are plenty of toothbrushes that leave a minimal impact on the environment. Due to increasing concern about the accumulation of plastic in the ocean, non-plastic toothbrushes made from materials like wood, bamboo and flax have soared in popularity. You can also find plenty of toothbrushes made from recycled or recyclable materials to further reduce your environmental footprint.

How Often Do You Travel?

Going on vacation is no excuse to take a holiday from your oral hygiene routine. If you frequently travel for business or pleasure, it’s important to choose a toothbrush that can go anywhere. For those who prefer powered toothbrushes, an important consideration is how long the battery lasts and whether the charger is compatible with the electrical systems in other countries. You may also want to choose a model that includes a travel case.

If you don’t travel often, you may prefer to purchase a foldable travel toothbrush and leave your expensive powered one safely at home. You can also buy a pack of disposable, single-use toothbrushes or pick up a cheap toothbrush when you arrive in your destination if you like to travel light.

Soft, Medium or Hard Bristles?

Traditionally, toothbrushes were available in one of three different bristle types: soft, medium and hard. However, brushes with hard bristles are increasingly difficult to find for a very good reason. Hard-bristled toothbrushes have been shown to cause damage like receding gums and enamel erosion.

Soft bristles are the most common type and the best choice for most people. If you are especially prone to tartar build-up or use your toothbrush to clean dentures, you may want to ask your dentist if a medium toothbrush would suit your needs better. Some toothbrushes also include extra polishing bristles to help remove surface stains.

Extra-soft toothbrushes have been making an appearance on store shelves over the past few years and can be a good fit if you have sensitive teeth or receding gums. They are also a great choice for toddlers and young children who are still learning to brush.

Does Size Matter?

The size of a toothbrush is an important factor in how well it can clean your teeth. A brush head that is too large will leave you unable to reach your back teeth and get into tight spaces, while a brush head that is too small may not clean effectively. If you have a smaller mouth or crowded teeth, choose a small brush head. Larger brush heads can be more efficient if you have a wide mouth or large teeth.

The shape of the brush head is also important. Diamond-shaped brushes are more effective at reaching back teeth and are a great choice for people who still have their wisdom teeth. Brushes that are trimmed into wavy, multi-level or crisscross patterns are more effective at lifting plaque and getting in between teeth.

Do You Have Braces?

Brushing your teeth when you have braces or other orthodontic appliances is a challenge. Whether you have wired braces with brackets or removable aligner trays, your teeth require extra care during orthodontic treatment. There is some evidence that a powered toothbrush may be a better choice for cleaning teeth with braces.

If you have fixed braces, you will need to use a brush pick in addition to a toothbrush in order to clean around the brackets. Brush picks are also useful for cleaning around fixed retainers, attachments and bridges. A qualified orthodontist, such as Newnham Family Orthodontics, can show you how to best care for your teeth during treatment.

What Does Your Dentist Recommend?

Still struggling to choose the best toothbrush for your needs? Consider asking your dentist for a recommendation. Dentists, orthodontists and hygienists spend a lot of time learning about the latest technology in toothbrushes and other dental hygiene devices. They often attend conferences and get to try out samples. No one is better qualified, and getting advice about what toothbrush you should use is just one of many reasons to visit your dentist twice a year.

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