How do I Choose the Best Toothbrush?

Lori Smith

Proper oral hygiene is important for reducing the build-up of plaque and to avoid painful cavities, tooth decay, gum disease that may cause serious health problems, and costly dental bills. When choosing the best toothbrush, softer bristles are usually recommended over firm ones. Consider whether you prefer manual brushing or an electric, vibrating cleaning tool, as there are many options available. Selecting the appropriate size for your mouth is also important to be sure you can reach all of your teeth easily.

The teeth and gums should be cleaned regularly to keep them healthy.
The teeth and gums should be cleaned regularly to keep them healthy.

When it comes to your toothbrush, its size and shape make a difference. For instance, if the head of the brush it too big, it may be difficult for you to reach your back teeth. Also, certain varieties, usually made for travel, may have shorter handles, and that can sometimes make them difficult or uncomfortable to use. Many times, a toothbrush with a rubber grip can make it easier to hold than the ones without it

Soft bristles are usually considered the best for a toothbrush.
Soft bristles are usually considered the best for a toothbrush.

The head of the toothbrush has multiple bristles. The firmness of these filaments is usually indicated on the package. Dentists generally recommend that you choose a soft to medium variety, as opposed to firm bristles, because you can actually compromise the enamel of your teeth if you brush using too much pressure. Using vigorous motions may also damage your teeth.

Some disposable electric toothbrushes cost about the same as a manual toothbrush.
Some disposable electric toothbrushes cost about the same as a manual toothbrush.

An electric toothbrush is an alternative to a traditional manual type. Some varieties may keep your teeth cleaner. They are believed to be more effective at removing plaque than manual versions, especially those with oscillating bristles that move in circular motions as well as back and forth. The removable heads on these models usually require replacement every three months. The cost of these toothbrushes may be considerably more than others.

Brushing teeth helps to reduce the risk of cavities.
Brushing teeth helps to reduce the risk of cavities.

As another option, you can choose a disposable, battery-operated, vibrating toothbrush. This type usually lasts about three months and is much more affordable than high-tech brushes. In fact, there are some brands priced comparable to the manual toothbrush.

The size and shape of a toothbrush can make a big difference.
The size and shape of a toothbrush can make a big difference.

For kids, there are many versions, both manual and electric, that are designed to make brushing fun. Some toothbrushes are made with themed handles that incorporate popular cartoon characters printed on them. Others play a melody or light up when in use. When choosing a toothbrush for a child, you want to make sure that the handle is easy for little hands to hold, and the brush head is small enough to reach all surfaces of the teeth.

The best way to prevent tooth decay is through regular brushing and flossing.
The best way to prevent tooth decay is through regular brushing and flossing.
Proper oral hygiene can reduce the chances of tooth decay.
Proper oral hygiene can reduce the chances of tooth decay.

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Discussion Comments


@EdRick- I also have admittedly really good teeth, and I am not picky about toothbrushes. I have had really basic-looking ones with really soft bristles and I liked those; I also had ones with really aerodynamic-looking bristles and those are good. The only kind I dislike and think really are no good are those really basic ones with bristles that are all the same length and also a really rough texture. It's too hard on the gums, I think.


@Monika - I can totally see where your boyfriend is coming from! It just feels uncomfortable to me to have an electric toothbrush brushing my teeth. To me it just feels better to brush my teeth with a regular, old-fashioned toothbrush.

I have not tried the high-end electrical toothbrushes, so maybe I will eventually try them, and it will feel awesome, but for now, I prefer the normal soft-bristled toothbrushes.


@starrynight - I have an electric toothbrush too. I was thinking about trying to store brand replacement brush heads but I think I'll steer clear now.

I personally swear by my electric toothbrush. I think it's the best kind. However, my boyfriend hates it! He says he feels like it's vibrating too much to be good for his teeth. I think he's crazy, but he continues to buy the regular toothbrushes instead of using my snazzy electric toothbrush. He never gets cavities though, so he must be doing something right.


I bought an electric toothbrush that's kind of a mid-range model I suppose. I didn't have a hundred dollars to spare on a really high end one. So I spent about thirty dollars and I've been pleased with the results.

One thing I have noticed though, is that the replacement brush heads are kind of expensive. They actually cost almost as much as it does to buy the toothbrush. For awhile I was using the store brand replacement heads, but they didn't last as long as the brand named ones. In my opinion, they didn't work as well.

I'm usually all about store brand stuff, but as far as electric toothbrush replacement heads I think it's better to just get the brand name kind.


@manykitties2 - I love that I can actually answer your question, I am frugal when it comes to most matters, and I thought that spending that much money on a toothbrush was ridiculous until... I tried my husband's toothbrush.

He bought a sonic toothbrush because he told his dentist there was no way he would floss. He hated flossing. Knew he should be flossing, but just asked if there was anything else he could do.

His dentist told him it was *not* a replacement for flossing but that the sonic style toothbrush was, in his opinion, what he would prescribe in the event my husband never started flossing.

Part of the reason I bought it was not only do your teeth feel cleaner than they have ever felt before, the toothbrush we have has a timer for 2 minutes, so you actually brush your teeth for the recommended amount of time.

I think that this is a strong reason as to why the toothbrush works so well at keeping your teeth clean, if you are brushing them for a full two minutes, its hard not to get them that clean.


I'm always a little frustrated that tooth brushes are packaged the way they are because I really want to feel the bristles before i buy one. For me the biggest issue is how hard and sharp the bristles are when it comes out of the package.

I have sensitive gums and I have had a few brushes that left the bloody and cut up for weeks. Some of the bristles feel like they are made from broken glass. Who wants a tooth brush like that.

The most frustrating thing is that there is no way to know until you get it out of the package. I've tossed a lot of toothbrushes into my waste basket because I knew that they just wouldn't work out.


For me the biggest consideration is longevity. I can't tell you how many cheap toothbrushes I've had that wear out after only a month. They are cheap and not hard to replace but I just don't like the idea in principle. I want a tooth brush that will last.

My dentist actually recommended one to me and it seems to last about 4 or 5 months on average. I also like the way it feels so I have stuck with the brand.


@manykitties2 - For me, the question would be does it get your teeth twenty-five times cleaner than the four dollar toothbrush (to justify it costing twenty-five times more). I can't believe that it would!

I don't even pay four dollars for a toothbrush. At Walmart, you can get their brand in a four-pack for four dollars! And they're perfectly fine toothbrushes with ergonomic handles. So for me, it would have to be a hundred times better.

But I have pretty good teeth. I can see how if you were really prone to plaque or had some other dental issue, you might be willing to pay a premium to get off even a little bit more.


Has anyone tried the sonic toothbrush that is supposed to get your teeth really clean because of all the vibrations?

I have been looking at different rechargeable toothbrushes and some of them can be really expensive. I want to take good care of my teeth, but am not sure if the sonic action is just hype or actually does a better job that my old Reach toothbrush.

Right now I pay about $3.99 for a new toothbrush, so jumping up to over a hundred dollars seems like a really big investment. I haven't gotten any cavities so far, so it seems like the regular toothbrush I use is doing its job.


I travel a lot and ended up buying a battery operated toothbrush because I was tired of having to constantly change adapters to get my rechargeable toothbrush to work.

I find that toothbrushes that having a moving head do a much better job of cleaning your teeth over a traditional toothbrush, plus I love that you can just change the toothbrush heads instead of having to buy and entirely new brush. It certainly saves on the amount of waste you put into the environment.

My dentist actually got me hooked on the travel toothbrushes that operate via batteries as my first one was a free sample from my dentist.

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