As you park your car, you take those dreaded steps into the department store. You’re headed to the oral health care aisle – one of the most overwhelming places to shop. As you walk down the aisle, thousand’s of dental products close in on you. You need one thing: a toothbrush. You look for the same one you always buy – keep it simple. Except, today, your classic brush is out of stock. Crap. Now you have to make a decision with about 100 different options in front of you. Which one do you pick?
I hear this from so many of my clients. They hate having to shop for a toothbrush. Options are nice, but too many options makes the decision nearly impossible. For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to look at manual toothbrushes only in this blog. I’ll cover electric brushes in another post.
Disclaimer: In most cases, it’s best to consult with your dental hygienist about which brush would be best for your mouth.
Anatomy of a Toothbrush
Most handles are fairly straight forward, however SUNSTAR GUM® makes a brush with a handle that encourages the proper angle every time, when brushing. Other handle features include different thicknesses – a thinner handled brush is standard, whereas a thicker handle is good for someone with dexterity issues or arthritic hands.
The brush head
There are a few more options to consider when looking at the head of a toothbrush. You want to look at the size of the head of the toothbrush, as well as the bristles of the toothbrush. In terms of size, you want a toothbrush head that will be big enough to thoroughly remove plaque from the tooth surfaces, but not something that is so big that you have trouble reaching all areas of the mouth. I typically lean towards a smaller sized brush head for clients (especially children) to be sure that access is not an issue.
Secondly, you want to look at the bristles of the brush. Here is where there is a wide variety. Some brushes come with different lengths of bristles, others have different orientations in which the bristles are angled. Although it is often thought that bristle design will affect how well it cleans, there is little scientific evidence to support this. You also have to choose the stiffness of bristles. Do you want a soft, medium or hard bristled toothbrush? Contrary to popular belief, science tells us that a soft bristled toothbrush hasn’t actually been shown to cause less damage to the teeth and gums.
Here are the few, simple points to remember when buying your next toothbrush
There is still much research that needs to be done before blanket claims can be made about the effects of manual toothbrushes.
When choosing your next toothbrush, look for one that will:
- have a handle that is lightweight, durable and comfortable to hold
- have a head that isn’t too big and restricting in the mouth
- and definitely discuss your choice of toothbrush with your dental hygienist because they may have suggestions to make based on the needs of your mouth
So the next time you enter the oral health aisle, don’t let all those options scare you. Hold your head high and grab your next brush with ease and confidence. Happy brushing!
- Asadoorian J: CDHA position paper on toothbrushing, Can J Dent Hygiene 40:232, 2006.
- P. Sunethra Rajapakse, Giles I. McCracken, Erika Gwynnett, Nick D. Steen, Arndt Guentsch, Peter A. Heasman: Does toothbrushing influence the development and progression of non-inflammatory gingival recession? A systematic review, Journal of Clinical Periodontology 34:1046, 2007.
- Darby, M. L., & Walsh, M. M. (2010). Toothbrushing. In Dental Hygiene: Theory and Practice (3rd ed., pp. 390–400). Saunders.