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Choosing The Right Toothbrush

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

Brushing your teeth is an essential part of your daily oral care, and selecting the right toothbrush is the first step in optimizing that routine. But the best toothbrush for the job depends on a variety of things that are unique to you. People struggle when surrounded by so many choices for this reason, especially when your dental professional isn't next to you to help you choose wisely.

When determining which toothbrush to choose, you should consider what your dental needs are. Many people have sensitive teeth, whereas others struggle with plaque biofilm retention along the gumline or directly on the tongue. Although all brushes share some universally beneficial features, there are specific toothbrushes available to ensure they help each user. Here's how to find a product that is both safe and effective while still addressing your specific dental concerns:

How to Choose the Best Toothbrush

Follow this handy step-by-step guide for finding what kind of toothbrush is best for you:

Step One – Decide on Manual or Electric/Battery-Powered Toothbrush: It doesn't matter as long as you spend two minutes each time you brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste. However, you might be better off with a powered toothbrush if you:

  • Have limited manual dexterity
  • Tend to brush too vigorously
  • Need help ensuring you brush for the proper amount of time
  • Get advice from your dentist to do a better job of cleaning your teeth.

Many powered toothbrushes alert you when you've brushed for two minutes—some signal when you've brushed each of the four quadrants of your teeth for 30 seconds.

Step Two – Look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance:

The American Dental Association seal ensures that independent experts verify the brush's safety and effectiveness. The standards ADA-approved toothbrushes meet often go beyond what government regulations require.

Step Three – Select the Best Type of Bristles: Most dental professionals agree that a soft-bristled toothbrush is best for teeth, especially for removing plaque and debris.

A soft toothbrush should do the job when brushing your teeth thoroughly for two minutes.

Medium and stiff bristles might be too hard on gums and enamel. Unless your dentist recommends brushing with a medium or hard toothbrush, stick with the soft brush.

Step Four – Choose the Size of Toothbrush Head: Small-headed brushes can better reach all areas of the mouth – including hard-to-reach back teeth.

You might also check with your dentist to determine if you need any particular toothbrush on which the bristles are patterned or tapered on the head.

Step Five – Pick Out a Brush Handle That's Best for You: Depending on your situation, you might require an angled, non-slip grip or flexible-neck handle.

Step Six – Opt for Your Favorite Color Toothbrush: This is the fun part. Once you narrow down your choices to your best toothbrush, go wild!

How Often Should I Replace My Toothbrush?

It's important to change toothbrushes after recovering from a cold or other bout of sickness. Otherwise, your brush bristles might collect germs leading to reinfection.

It's important to replace your toothbrush or powered toothbrush head if any of the following apply:

  • It begins to show wear-and-tear.
  • You've used it for three months.

Tip: When you pull out a new toothbrush or powered brush head, note three months from that day to change your brush in your calendar.

How to Dispose of a Toothbrush

If you replace your toothbrush every few months, you'll end up using at least four toothbrushes a year. But how do you dispose of a toothbrush? Traditional toothbrushes are made with a mixture of plastics, nylon, and rubber, which can spend years breaking down in landfills. If you're concerned about your impact on the environment, check if your local grocery store, recycling facility or local drop-off service will accept your used oral care products.

When in doubt, ask your dental professional for guidance. They can help you ensure the best toothbrush is also suitable for your specific dental needs.


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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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