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Brush Up on Toothbrush Styles

The concept of mechanically cleaning the teeth has been around since ancient peoples chewed the frayed ends of aromatic twigs. But the precursor to the plastic and nylon device we know now came on the scene in the 1930s.

With hundreds of models to choose from, you may want to ask your dentist which style of toothbrush is right for you. The following information may help you decide.

Look for the Seal




Bristle surface

Flat, concave, convex, or multilevel

Concave is more effective for cleaning the outer surface, while convex does a better job on inner surfaces. Flat and multilevel are the best overall.

Bristle shape

Blunt or rounded

Opt for rounded. Blunt-cut bristles are more likely than rounded ones to damage delicate gum tissue.

Bristle firmness

Extra soft to extra hard

Excessively hard brushes used with abrasive toothpaste can damage the gums and wear away enamel. In general, most dentists recommend soft brushes, especially for people with sensitive teeth.

Head shape and size

Rectangle, diamond, or polygon shapes; regular or compact size

Compact angled heads are better for people with smaller mouths. Otherwise, choose the size and shape that is the most comfortable.

Handle design

Straight or angled

All handle shapes seem to work equally well. Choose the design that feels the most comfortable to you. The more comfortable you are using your toothbrush, the more likely you are to brush often.

Electric toothbrushes have been widely touted, and indeed they can be equally effective as - or in some cases even more than - manual brushes when used consistently.

An electric toothbrush can be particularly helpful for people who have trouble reaching all corners of their mouth. For example, power brushes are useful for people with braces, parents brushing their young children’s teeth, and individuals with mental or physical disabilities that impair dexterity. The thicker handle on power models is also a plus for some older patients and people with arthritis who have difficulty grasping the thinner shaft of a manual brush.

Source: Dental Health for Adults: A Guide to Protecting Your Teeth and Gums. Copyright © by Harvard University. All rights reserved.

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