Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
You can’t overestimate the importance of good oral hygiene — not only for dental health but for your overall wellbeing. In fact, gum disease can be a major risk factor for the development of serious health conditions, including heart disease and diabetes.From the time we’re young, we’re taught that using a toothbrush regularly is one of the best ways to keep our teeth and gums healthy. But which toothbrush is best?

In the late 1930s, when toothbrushes with nylon bristles were first invented, consumers choosing a toothbrush didn’t have many options. Now, the story’s completely different. Most stores that sell oral hygiene products now have an extensive collection of different types of toothbrushes on their shelves, including manual (disposable) and powered (electric) varieties.

General Tips for Choosing a Toothbrush

There are certain characteristics that you should look for in whatever toothbrush you choose, regardless of whether it is manual or powered.

Size. The best toothbrush head for you should allow you easy access to all surfaces of your teeth. For most adults, a toothbrush head a half-inch wide and one-inch tall will be the easiest to use and the most effective. Though there are larger toothbrush heads available, you may find that it is difficult to maneuver them to clean certain hard-to-reach areas, such as the sides and backs of your molars. The toothbrush should have a long enough handle so you can comfortably hold it in your hand.

Bristle variety. If you go to the drug store to purchase a manual toothbrush or a replacement head for your electric toothbrush, you will be able to select a toothbrush with soft, medium, or hard nylon bristles. For the vast majority of people, a soft-bristled toothbrush will be the most comfortable and safest choice. Depending on how vigorously you brush your teeth and the strength of your teeth, medium- and hard-bristled brushes could actually damage the gums, root surface, and protective tooth enamel.

Toothbrushes: Disposable or Electric?

As long as you clean your teeth regularly using proper brushing technique, you should be able to reduce plaque build-up and keep your gums healthy with either a manual or powered toothbrush. Here are some things to keep in mind as you go about choosing the best toothbrush:

Cost. Although there are some more affordable powered toothbrush options being sold, electric toothbrushes cost many times more than manual toothbrushes. In addition to the initial expense of an electric toothbrush, you will need to replace the removable toothbrush head as often as you replace your manual toothbrush. Of course, if using an electric toothbrush helps you keep your teeth cleaner, you may make up for the expense with a reduction in dental bills.

Likability. When it comes down to it, the best toothbrush for you is going to be the one you’re most likely to use — and use well. Some people may not like the vibrating feeling of a powered toothbrush. Others might find an electric variety easier to use to clean all tooth surfaces. This may be especially true for people with conditions that limit mobility, such as painful arthritis. If you enjoy using your toothbrush, you’re more likely to brush for the recommended length of time — two minutes. Some powered varieties even have a built-in timer to let you know when you’ve devoted enough time to brushing.

The Best Toothbrush for Children

When it comes to choosing the best toothbrush for your child, it’s important to opt for one that they will use properly and regularly. There are a variety of disposable and electric options available for kids. And they come in a variety of colours and often feature children’s favourite characters from classic stories and popular cartoons. Some varieties even play music to help your child know how long to brush.

To choose a good toothbrush for your child, try the following suggestions:

  • Pick a child-sized toothbrush with soft bristles.
  • If your children are old enough, have them help you pick out their toothbrushes. Getting your children involved in the process and excited about a new toothbrush may make tooth-brushing a more enjoyable task.

Sources

SOURCES:

American Dental Association: “Toothbrush Care: Cleaning, and Replacement.”

American Academy of Periodontology: “Are Your Gums Getting the Respect They Need?”

University of Maryland Medical Center: “Pediatric Dental Health.”

University of South Carolina School of Medicine: “General Home Care: Toddlers and Teeth.”