Take a walk down the toothbrush aisle and you will likely see dozens of choices, varying in type, price, and brand.
This may lead to an impulse buy, or oppositely, a long decision making process. In reality, though, there are very few things that make one toothbrush stand out from another.
The first and most important factor is to purchase a toothbrush that is identified as having soft bristles as opposed to medium or hard bristles.
“You don’t need hard bristles or medium bristles to remove plaque, and they can actually wear away enamel and gum tissue,” said Dr. Rashmi Bhatnagar, DMD and MPH at BellaVista DentalCare in Phoenix.
The demographic of the buyer is also important, as manual toothbrushes, while effective, are better designed for a user with adequate dexterity and hand coordination. Because of this, elderly patients and children may find an automatic, battery-operated toothbrush handier.
For automatic toothbrushes, Bhatnagar recommends those that oscillate, since they better suit the shape of the gums and do not mimic the back and forth motion that is common when brushing teeth manually, thereby reducing tooth and gum wear.
Oscillating toothbrushes, which come in brand names like Oral B and Philips, tend to be more expensive than manual brushes, though for children, oscillating toothbrushes can be purchased at major retail chains for under $10.
Bhatnagar says that regardless of the type of brush being used, it is important to remember to brush regularly.
“You should be brushing two times minimum per day, for a minimum of two minutes at a time,” she said. “Make sure to brush all sides, including the cheek side and tongue side. Also, flossing is always overlooked, and that goes hand-in-hand with brushing. One isn’t good without the other, since brushing only removes plaque on the teeth but not between them.”