Selecting a toothbrush

A foolproof guide to handling your pearly whites with care
November 23, 2016

Walking down the dental care aisle at the grocery store can be a bit overwhelming, with a wide variety of toothbrushes that all claim to be “the best.” Dental care should really be simple, but with the outstanding variety, it sometimes feels anything but. Luckily, we have tips to help you select the perfect toothbrush for your individual needs.

Opt for the soft brush

Soft or medium or firm

Many people prefer firmer bristles because they think that they’re more effective for removing stains and plaque, but that is not the case. In fact, harder bristles can damage gum tissue and cause them to recede. The exposed root surface can be damaged by hard scrubbing and is more susceptible to cavities. Firm bristles also have a risk of damaging or cutting your gums, risking infection.

Most dental professionals agree that a soft-bristled brush is best for removing plaque and debris from your teeth. Extra-soft bristled toothbrushes are recommended for anyone who has sensitive teeth or gums, or who is recovering from a dental procedure.

Your toothbrush should be able to reach all parts of your mouth

Shape and size

While you don’t want to damage your teeth or prick your gums with hard bristles, you do want to remove as much plaque and staining as you can. Although a smaller brush head may be better at reaching all of your teeth, you are likely to miss some of the surface area, so it’s important to be thorough when using a brush with a smaller head. Also, large brush heads can cause trauma to oral tissues adjacent to the teeth.

Another thing to look for is a flexible brush, which will allow you to maneuver around your mouth at difficult angles and also bend to compensate when you are pushing too much.

Electric toothbrushes have the edge

Electric or manual

The electric toothbrush may get a bad reputation as being a gimmick, overpriced or unnecessary, but dentists have lauded the motorized benefits. Electric toothbrushes ensure that you effectively make multiple passes over your teeth in the same length of time, without placing too much pressure on the teeth or gums. Research suggests that electric brushes are more effective than manual toothbrushes at removing plaque and reducing gum inflammation, gingivitis.

Know when it's time to get a new one

When should I replace my toothbrush?

You’ve been brushing your teeth for some time now, so you may already have a go-to shape or type. It’s important to tell your dentist if you are concerned about your toothbrush selection and how it can affect your unique mouth and brushing habits. If your toothbrush seems to be working for you, replace it every three months or whenever the bristles get worn, as worn bristles can damage gum tissue.

Rinse your toothbrushes thoroughly after use to remove remaining paste or food debris, and store your toothbrush upright after use while allowing them to air dry. It’s also very important to change your toothbrush after you’d had a cold or other infection, since the bristles can collect germs that could lead to infection.

— Dominic Hernandez

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