“Which toothbrush is best, Dr Les?”.
It’s a question I’m asked regularly by patients, parents, and people at barbecues. Yes, people even ask about toothbrushes at barbecues.
As a dentist, I get it. Why wouldn’t people ask which toothbrush is best?
It’s not the question I’m asked which surprises me. What’s concerning is that so many people feel confused about something so much a part of everyday life.
Let’s face it. Choosing a toothbrush has become confusing for almost anyone other than your local dentist or hygienist. It’s no longer as simple as rocking up to the oral hygiene aisle of your supermarket and throwing a toothbrush in your shopping basket.
Like many things today, as the technology has advanced, choosing what’s best for you and your family has become more complicated.
And you’re left answering questions you’d never thought about twice.
What shape head do you choose?
How long should the bristles be?
How hard should toothbrush bristles be?
Electric toothbrush or manual toothbrush?
At Define Dental, we love educating our patients so they’re empowered to take good care of their oral health. Part of that education involves sharing what we know about things like which toothbrush is best. The bottom line about toothbrushes is they’re a wonderful tool. Along with regular visits to your dentist, they are incredibly important for maintaining good dental health and overall health. Which is why it pays to know a few basics about which toothbrush is best for you.
Curious? Read on!
#1 Check out the bristles to know which is the best toothbrush
The best place to start when choosing a toothbrush is to look at the toothbrush bristles.
Ideally, bristles on your toothbrush should be soft; not medium or hard. This might surprise people who are used to vigorous brushing and enjoy the sensation of a brisk clean. The problem with hard or medium bristles is they can be abrasive to teeth and gums. The result? Teeth wear, gum recession, and sensitivity. Brushing with hard or medium bristles can even cause grooves to form where people brush. Add to this a toothpaste with abrasive particles, and the impacts can be even greater.
When selecting your toothbrush, check the product packaging. The firmness of the toothbrush bristles will be clearly visible, labelled as soft, medium, hard. Choose the soft bristles with rounded ends and you’ll not only enjoy brushing more, you’re teeth and gums will feel better too.
#2 Make sure the bristles are all the same length
At the start of this blog, I mentioned advancements in toothbrush technology. Not only have these extended to the shape and size of brushes, they’ve also embraced the type of toothbrush bristles.
Somehow bristles went from being uniform and one colour to different shapes, sizes and rainbow-coloured. The issue is, those different bristle types you’ve been investing in may not be the best thing for your teeth, gums and oral health.
Here’s why. Thicker, firmer bristles hit the tooth surface for longer. This might sound like a good thing, but it can lead to teeth wear and tear caused by abrasion from the bristles.
Fortunately, there is a way around this. Look for toothbrushes with bristles all the same length. Your toothbrush might not be as bright and colourful, but it will be better for your teeth, mouth, and oral health.
#3 Choose a toothbrush with a small head
Okay, so you might be thinking, Well Dr Les, they’re all pretty small. What do you mean?
Essentially, the larger the head, the more difficult it is to access the back areas of the mouth. Conversely, the smaller the head, the easier it is.
The reason you want to be accessing those difficult-to-reach corners of the mouth is to reduce the likelihood of food getting lodged and bad bacteria developing. Occasionally missing a spot may not be detrimental to your oral or overall health, however a consistent pattern of brushing impacted by your toothbrush of choice, can have long term negative consequences.
#4 Choose electric rather than powered over manual toothbrushes
While the discussion of electric versus manual toothbrushes might be one that’s hotly debated, I tell my patients, in the right hands, both types of toothbrushes work equally well.
That said, I offer one caveat. Most people aren’t dentists or hygienists. This means, they’re not necessarily aware of the best toothbrush, or the best way to brush their teeth. And it’s this very reason why I recommend an electric toothbrush over a manual toothbrush for most people.
Does this mean throw away your manual toothbrush and rush right out for the best electric toothbrush you can get your hands on? No. A manual toothbrush is still an excellent tool, if the bristles are soft and even, and you’re using the right brushing technique.
A couple of other reasons you might want to consider a powered toothbrush.
The Cochrane review, completed an independent study into manual versus electric toothbrushes. The review, which received significant attention in the media, recommends a particular electric toothbrush, specifically, one with a round head and an oscillating action, rather than a manual or sonicated (vibrating) one. In short, a toothbrush with an oscillating head helps clean plaque off tooth surfaces more effectively than other toothbrushes which rotate in one direction or use a tilting, horizontal movement.
More confused than ever? Don’t be. In simple terms, if you can, choose an electric toothbrush and apply the principles I’ve mentioned here about toothbrush head size (small) and bristles (soft and round). If you’re light on time and not inclined to do the research, let me make it simple for you. Go with an Oral B electric toothbrush which has a rotation-oscillation movement and their “Sensitive Clean” or “Gum Care” replacement brush heads. These are available at electrical stores, most supermarkets, and can also be purchased from your local dentist.
Want to know more about the best toothbrush and toothpaste? Make a time to see one of the dentists or the hygienist at Define Dental. They can answer all your questions, show you how to brush your teeth properly – in a way that’s right for you – taking into account your mouth, teeth, and toothbrush.
Owned by Dr Les Jabbour, Define Dental is a Benowa dentist. As the Gold Coast’s premier dental practice providing quality dental care to local residents longer than any other, Define Dental has decades of experience of providing exceptional dental care for the local Benowa community and wider Gold Coast region. The team at Define Dental is experienced in helping patients choose the best toothbrush they need for maintaining their best oral health. We work with all patients to assess and activate their oral health journey, and then support them with treatment and ongoing maintenance. Want to know more? Call 5597 2100 to book an appointment.