Choosing a new toothbrush


The range of options available to shoppers these days can make it very difficult to know if you’re making the correct choice. If you are confused about which one to choose we hope this article will be helpful.

So what are the main features of today’s toothbrush and which one will be best for your or your child’s oral hygiene?

There are four main aspects to consider.

1.Size. It is very important that any brush you use on your teeth can be easily manoeuvred to clean all tooth surfaces. We recommend a brush with a small compact head, as this will allow you to reach all those hard to reach areas. An even smaller brush or child’s toothbrush can be used to clean more difficult spots like wisdom teeth; single tuft toothbrushes are also very effective in these areas. Chunky handles are usually easier and more comfortable to hold.

2. Bristles. There are three bristle choices on offer: soft, medium and hard. In the past, all bristles were hard and people tended to scrub their teeth clean. We now know that this can result in wear, toothbrush abrasion, of the tooth surfaces. Hard bristle brushes may also traumatise gums, causing recession or shrinkage which can be a major cause of tooth sensitivity. This is why we would recommend against hard bristles, a medium-bristle brush being preferable. Soft bristle brushes are available but are only useful if gums are particularly tender or for use after surgery as they usually fail to remove plaque effectively and often result in us brushing harder to achieve a clean feel.

3. Tongue brush. It is recognised that cleaning debris from your tongue can be important for optimal oral hygiene. Often the bristles of your toothbrush will be adequate. But if you notice a thick film building up on your tongue, look out for choices that include a special tongue brush, which is wider and flatter, covering more of the tongue in fewer strokes, you may gag at first when you try to brush your tongue, but by trying a little everyday, the gag reflex will lessen and it will become easier.

4. Indicator. When brushing at least twice daily, your toothbrush should last around three months. Some toothbrushes have a coloured area added to the bristles which fades to help show you when it’s time for a new one. If you choose to buy a brand that doesn’t have this feature, consider renewing your toothbrush when the seasons change or sooner if you see the bristles are starting to look a bit worn. Other signs your toothbrush needs replaced are if the bristles are splayed out of shape or if your mouth doesn’t feel as clean as it ought to after brushing.

Some other things to consider…

Manual versus Electric
If the correct technique is used and brushing lasts long enough (minimum of 2 minutes), a manual toothbrush can be very effective although research does show that rotating and oscillating power toothbrushes, such as Oral B’s electric toothbrushes, can be more effective than manual brushes. Some additional benefits of using an electric toothbrush are that some models will automatically alert you if you are brushing too hard therefore guiding you as to the correct amount of pressure to apply. Most also have timers to make sure you brush for the recommended minimum of 2 minutes, some even have smiley faces or display units which sit by the sink and help to motivate us! You can even connect the top of the range models to your smart phone with Bluetooth by downloading the Oral B app to your mobile phone; this will record your brushing while also giving you tips and reminders. Whatever toothbrush is used, it must be used correctly and for 2-3 minutes each time.

Toothbrushes for children
Choosing the right brush for your child’s teeth and gums is important, because it can influence their lifetime oral hygiene habits. Look out for a child-size brush – many brands come with age guidelines. A soft-bristle brush is best and it is a good idea to choose one that is attractive or fun. For example, it may incorporate your child’s favourite film or cartoon character. Involving your child in the choice may help to make this important daily activity something they will enjoy and want to continue to do.

Looking at the supermarket shelf…. Good choices include the following but are not limited to

Oral B 123 Indicator Medium 35

  • Gentle on teeth and gums.

  • Helps clean hard-to-reach places.

  • Fits in most toothbrush holders.

  • Indicator bristles tell you when to replace your brush.

Oral B Cross Action Medium

  • Helps clean hard-to-reach places.

  • Criss cross bristles, angled in opposing directions to lift out and sweep away plaque.
  • Blue Indicator bristles fade halfway so you know when to replace your toothbrush.
  • Carefully polished end-round bristles.

Sensodyne Precision (Medium) Toothbrush

  • Specially designed for people with sensitive teeth.
  • Silky bristles are designed to gently clean teeth.
  • Small angled head is specially designed to provide effective cleaning even in hard to reach areas.

Single Tuft Toothbrush

  • Specially suited to the care of braces, isolated or poorly positioned teeth, implants and bridges.

Oral B Professional Electric Toothbrush Range

  • 3D movement cleaning system oscillates, rotates, and pulsates to remove up to 100% more plaque than a regular manual toothbrush.

  • Visible Pressure Sensor that illuminates if brushing pressure exceeds recommended pressure. The brush provides a short stutter every 30 seconds and a longer stutter after 2 minutes of brushing.

For Children : Colgate Smile 0-3 Extra Soft Toothbrush/Colgate Smile 4-6 /Colgate Smile 6+

  • Extra soft bristles for effective and gently cleaning.
  • Small head for easy access to child’s little mouth.
  • Thumb rest and non-slip handle for better control.

Cheaper brands/supermarkets own brands of toothbrushes can also be used but look for the approved by the British Dental Health Foundation logo on these products as they are not made by a known dental brand.

Donna (Hygienist) and Joanne (Clinical Liaison Officer)