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What Is a Manual Toothbrush?

Erik J.J. Goserud
Erik J.J. Goserud

A manual toothbrush is a dental cleaning device that is powered via physical energy from the user with no battery assistance. Contrary to electric toothbrushes that assist the user with battery operation, manual toothbrushes have no batteries or mechanics. There are two basic types of manual toothbrushes: traditional and disposable.

There are hundreds of different toothbrushes on the market. The manual toothbrush refers to toothbrushes in the conventional sense. Manual models continue to be the choice of the majority of the population. While newer models of electric toothbrushes enter the market each month, the basic principles of the manual model stay the same.

A manual toothbrush is powered without battery assistance.
A manual toothbrush is powered without battery assistance.

Some of the benefits of a manual toothbrush are their portability, low cost, and grip handles. Losing a manual toothbrush is not as catastrophic as losing an electric toothbrush, which can cost around $50 US Dollars (USD). Manual toothbrushes can cost anywhere from $1 USD to $10 USD and up depending on brand and build. Some models include add-ons like built-in toothpicks or carrying cases.

Manual toothbrushes can be purchased nearly everywhere from convenience stores to supermarkets to pharmacies. There are various weights of bristles on the toothbrushes, from hard bristled to soft bristled or anywhere in the middle range. Harder bristles are known to attack plaque better but can also be tougher on the gums. People with sensitive gums should opt for softer bristles and specialized toothpaste.

Disposable toothbrushes are typically used by commercial service industries. Hotels often grant guests a complementary disposable toothbrush. These brushes are lightweight and inexpensive. They are produced in mass quantities. Disposable toothbrushes usually have harder bristles because the softer-quality materials of higher-end brushes can get expensive.

The common consumer can also buy packs of disposable brushes at major retail outlets. These brushes can be difficult to maneuver due to their flimsy handles made of thin plastic. While they are not recommended for routine use, they are great for travel or house guests who've forgotten theirs. If purchased in smaller quantities, they come wrapped in plastic. Larger quantities for commercial retailers come in large boxes, individually wrapped.

It is important to keep the manual toothbrush clean as it is a haven for bacteria. A manual toothbrush benefits from being washed with soap or sanitizer once per week. A protective carrying tube is a good way to keep the brush from attracting excess bacteria. The case too works better when cleaned at least once per week.

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Discussion Comments


Where can I find a manual toothbrush under 1' long, about 6–9" ideal? They do not seem to be readily available in my area of New Jersey. --Sally G.

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    • A manual toothbrush is powered without battery assistance.
      By: Tomasz Trojanowski
      A manual toothbrush is powered without battery assistance.