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Sift through the never-ending dental care aisle and find the toothbrush that’s right for your smile

Guide to Buying a Toothbrush.

How many times have you gone to the supermarket to pick up a toothbrush only to be completely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options?


Manual, electric, soft-bristled, hard-bristled, round-tipped, square-tipped, long-head, short-head…


Just looking at all of them is enough to give someone paralysis by analysis. 


Narrowing things down and finding the right toothbrush for your smile can seem impossible, but don’t worry!


With some expert advice from our team of dentists and guidance from the American Dental Association (ADA), we put together this guide to make your next toothbrush-buying trip dead simple.


ADA Recommendations

For starters, let’s go over what the ADA recommends when buying your toothbrush.


They offer a few general guidelines that can make the process much simpler right off the bat:

  • Brush your teeth for at least two minutes, twice a day
  • Opt for soft-bristled toothbrushes unless otherwise directed by your dentist. If you’re not careful, medium-bristled brushes may cause damage to your gums, so the ADA recommends avoiding them altogether just to be on the safe side.
  • Replace your toothbrush (or the head of your toothbrush if you use an electric one) every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed or matted. Basically, the worse the bristles look, the less effective your toothbrush is.
  • Both manual and electric toothbrushes are effective at removing plaque and cleaning your teeth. You’re not missing out on anything by doing it the old-fashioned way.
  • When shopping for toothbrushes, look for the ADA seal of approval. “A product earns the ADA Seal of Acceptance by providing scientific evidence that demonstrates safety and efficacy, which the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs carefully evaluates according to objective requirements.”


You brush your teeth twice every day. So, ideally, you want a toothbrush that follows these guidelines and makes it easy to stick to your daily routine. It needs to be comfortable, easy to use, and effective.


As long as it checks all those boxes, any toothbrush––whether manual or electric––will work just fine!


Manual Toothbrushes

Now that we have a better idea of what we’re looking for, let’s jump into finding the right manual toothbrush for you.

Get a Grip

To start, you need a handle that’s comfortable and fits in your hand. 


The harder it is to do your daily brushing, the less likely you are to keep up with it.


If your toothbrush handle is too long, short, or unwieldy, it may affect your ability to brush correctly and leave your teeth exposed to harmful bacteria. 


You may need to shop around, but once you get a feel for the style of grip you need, it’ll be much easier to choose next time you’re in the dental care aisle.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Everyone’s different, and so are our smiles. When you’re looking for the right toothbrush, you need to find one that’s the right size for your mouth. 


You want the head to be big enough so that you don’t have to work too hard while brushing. But not too big to where you can’t get to those hard-to-reach areas like the back molars.


The sworn-by standard is one inch long by half an inch wide, but you’ll have to do some testing to see if that size works for you.

Flat, Angled, or Multi-Level Bristles?

Aside from the standard flat-bristled brushes, you’ll find some with angled or multi-leveled bristles.


While it’s largely a matter of comfort, there is some evidence that angled and multi-level bristles remove more plaque than the flat variety, with angled bristles performing the best.


If you want to know exactly what you’re looking for when you go to the store, you can find a list of ADA-approved manual toothbrushes here


That way, if you know what style of toothbrush works for you, you can take the guesswork out of the equation.


Electric Toothbrushes

If you can afford it, spending the extra cash on an electric toothbrush can make your dental care routine much more convenient.


Of course, the same grip, size, and bristle rules still apply to electric toothbrushes. But there are a lot more features to look at. 


If you’re wondering whether you should make the switch, here’s a list of pros and cons to consider:


  • Depending on the type you get, electric toothbrushes can oscillate, rotate, vibrate, and more to save you the trouble of manually brushing.
  • Some come with pressure or sensitivity settings to adjust the strength of the brush to your comfort.
  • Some battery-powered brushes have timers to let you know when you’ve been brushing for two minutes, keeping you on track with the ADA’s official recommendations.
  • Certain models come with charging docks, so you don’t have to worry about replacing any batteries.
  • Others have different cleaning modes to choose from based on your dental care needs (daily clean, gum care, natural teeth whitening, tongue clean, etc.)
  • Great for people who have trouble brushing manually – children who are new to brushing, the elderly, people with braces, and people with disabilities.


  • Electric toothbrushes typically cost quite a bit more than manual toothbrushes.
  • They need to be recharged, and many of them require batteries.
  • Many electric brushes don’t travel well, especially the ones with bulky charging docks.

If you have the money to spare, an electric toothbrush can certainly be worth it! As long as it follows the guidelines in this article, your smile will be in good hands.


For a list of ADA-approved electric toothbrushes, click here.


Kids Toothbrushes

The best toothbrush for your little one is the one they want to use. If a manual toothbrush with a picture of Spiderman catches their eye, go for it! 


Just make sure it has soft bristles and the ADA seal of approval.


If manual brushing is too tricky, some electric toothbrushes come equipped with a speaker so your child can listen to a fun song while they clean their teeth. 


Before they know it, two minutes will have gone by, and you can praise them for a job well done!


Find a Brush That Works for You

Above all, the best brush for you is the one that helps you stick to your dental care routine consistently.


With this Guide to Buying a Toothbrush, at the very least, you’ll know what you want to experiment with the next time you go to buy a toothbrush. 


And at best, you’ll know exactly what you’re looking for, and you’ll be able to stroll down the dental aisle with confidence.


Always Here for Your Smile

Of course, if you ever have any questions or need some toothbrush recommendations, feel free to give us a call at Dental Express.


We serve up smiles in the San Diego area, but we’re always happy to help anyone curious about how to improve their dental health.


If you’re a local and you need family-friendly, patient-focused dental care, stop by and see us at your convenience, set up an appointment online, or give us a ring. 


Let’s build your ideal smile together and Guide to Buying a Toothbrush.


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