The Best Toothbrush Type: How To Pick The Right One For You

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Medically reviewed by Danielle Romatz, RDH

You may think oral hygiene relates to your smile and breath alone. However, your dental health is crucial to your overall health sense problems in your mouth effect what you can eat and drink dramatically. Gum disease and oral infections can be major risk factors for the development of other severe health conditions. That’s why it’s vital to choose an effective toothbrush that suits your needs, preferences, and budget.

Dentists recommend electric toothbrushes over “manual” toothbrushes. Brushes that are appropriately sized for your mouth with soft bristles and ergonomic designs are best. If you have an electric toothbrush, you’ll need to replace the tip periodically so you may want to stock extras.

With all the different toothbrushes on the market, we wouldn’t be surprised if your head started to spin every time you entered the dental aisle. Thankfully, choosing the right toothbrush comes down to a few key features, preferences, and budget. Read on for everything you need to know about selecting the right type of toothbrush.

The Different Types of Toothbrushes


Nowadays, you can find toothbrushes in all different sizes, colors, and varieties. The choice of toothbrush mainly comes down to personal preference. However, you may not be using the best toothbrush for your needs, causing more damage or discomfort.

Here are the different types of toothbrushes to get you started.

Extra-Soft, Soft, Medium, and Hard Bristles: What’s the Difference?

When you go to the drug store, you may be surprised to see all the different types of toothbrushes available. One of the defining differences between toothbrushes is their bristle type. You can find toothbrushes with extra-soft, soft, medium, and hard bristles.

Toothbrush bristles are typically made of nylon, a strong and flexible synthetic fiber. Each bristle type will have its own set of advantages, disadvantages, and best use cases.

  • Extra-Soft Bristles: Extra-soft bristle toothbrushes are exactly what they sound like. This toothbrush type is gentle yet effective. Extra-soft bristle toothbrushes are typically used for toddlers, infants, and children.
  • Soft Bristles: Soft bristle toothbrushes are the most common toothbrush type and are widely available. Soft bristle toothbrushes are excellent at removing plaque, stains, and food debris.
  • Medium Bristles: Medium bristle toothbrushes are one step up in strength from their soft bristle counterparts. Medium bristles are commonly used for removable teeth such as dentures, partials, and flippers.
  • Hard or Firm Bristles: Sometimes called firm bristles, hard-bristle toothbrushes are the stiffest bristle type available. This type of toothbrush isn’t recommended for daily use, although it can come in handy. Hard bristle toothbrushes are often used for removable teeth, just like medium bristle toothbrushes.

Electric Vs. Non-Electric Toothbrushes

If you’ve been to the dental aisle of any drug store, you’ve seen a wide variety of manual and electric toothbrushes. Although one may be more effective than the other, the choice of electric versus non-electric comes down mostly to preference.

However, make sure to do your own research. Not all electric toothbrushes have the ADA seal of approval, which guarantees that a product is safe, effective, and high-quality.

How to Choose The Right Toothbrush for You

Choosing the right toothbrush is crucial to your oral hygiene, health, and enjoyment. If you aren’t using a toothbrush you actually like, it becomes easier to slack off while you’re brushing or to skip it entirely.

Keep in mind that the best toothbrush is the one you want to use. Refer to this guide to get a general idea of what the professionals recommend.

Choose a Toothbrush That Fits Your Mouth

The most effective toothbrush head is one that allows easy access to all surfaces of your teeth. This even includes the backs and sides of your molars. Most dentists recommend a toothbrush with a half-inch wide and one-inch tall head.

This size is suitable for most adults, allowing them to access hard-to-reach areas.

Of course, there are toothbrushes with larger, smaller, and more compact heads. If you have a larger mouth, you may need something bigger.

The inverse is true if you’re dealing with a tighter space. Some adults have even opted for child-sized toothbrushes as they allow easy access to hard-to-reach locations.

Angled Toothbrushes Can Reach Challenging Areas

Angled toothbrush heads can help you access hard-to-reach areas within your mouth. Angled toothbrushes can be useful for accessing the backsides of your lower and upper teeth. These areas are notorious for plaque and bacteria buildup.

An angled toothbrush head helps reach the insides of your teeth, and especially the insides of your lower and upper front teeth. These areas can be susceptible to tartar buildup because, for some people, they’re harder to reach with a standard toothbrush head.

When in Doubt: Go with Soft-Bristles

Bristle softness is a crucial element in your choice of a toothbrush. This one feature can impact your oral health in staggering ways. Most dentists recommend soft-bristled toothbrushes.

This is because soft bristle toothbrushes are effective at cleaning and removing plaque without being damaging.

Medium and hard bristle toothbrushes can be harmful when used for long periods of time. These toothbrushes pose more of a risk because they can erode and weaken tooth enamel. Medium and hard bristle toothbrushes are better suited for those with dentures and removable teeth.

The Bristle Type Is Important Too

Besides how soft the bristles are, you’ll also need to decide on the bristle type. Some toothbrushes have rounded bristles, while others have flat-topped varieties. Rounded bristles are commonly recommended by dentists as they’re more gentle.

You can also find toothbrush products with uniform bristles, while others have varying lengths and angles. Varying lengths and angles can sometimes be beneficial due to the increased surface area. Be sure to ask your dentist what they recommend for you and your dental hygiene.

Electric Vs. Manual: Is One Better Than the Other?

As mentioned earlier, the choice between electric and manual toothbrushes comes down mainly to personal preference.

That being said, electric toothbrushes have been shown to be more effective at removing plaque, debris, and bacteria. On the other hand, manual and disposable toothbrushes are more affordable and readily available.

Also, it should be noted that more than one person can use the same electric toothbrush. They can use the same base and switch out the head. Many electric toothbrush heads have a small colored indicator that goes on the head for each user.

So, what’s the verdict? Manual or electric? If you can swing the extra cash, electric toothbrushes are more effective. Even so, manual toothbrushes are still perfectly capable solutions.

As always, the best toothbrush will be the one you want to use. If you’re still unsure, ask your dentist what they recommend for you and your dental hygiene.

Make Sure Your Toothbrush Is Ergonomic

If you thought your toothbrush handle was as trivial as the color, we wouldn’t blame you. However, your toothbrush handle is crucial to your brushing experience and dental hygiene. If your handle is uncomfortable to hold, you may skip out on brushing sessions or lose maneuverability.

Be sure to find a toothbrush that’s ergonomic, comfortable to hold, and non-slip.

Look For ADA-Approved Brushes

Trying to find the right toothbrush in the dental aisle can be like finding a needle in a haystack. Nearly all toothbrushes look the same, making it hard to differentiate between the good, bad, and ugly. Thankfully, you can look for products that are ADA-approved.

ADA-approved toothbrushes are backed and recommended by the American Dental Association. With this backing, you can trust that these products are top-notch and worth your money.

If you aren’t sure what the ADA seal of approval looks like, here’s a quick reference.

Find the Best In Your Budget

The most important aspect of choosing an adequate toothbrush could be your overall budget. Nowadays, you can find toothbrush models with Bluetooth compatibility, tracking features, sensitivity control, etc.

All these added features hike up the price of the toothbrush, resulting in some models costing over $200! If these price points feel discouraging, don’t fret. There are suitable toothbrushes at all price points.

Verdict – Should You Use a Soft or Hard Toothbrush?

You would think harder and stiffer toothbrush bristles would be better at removing plaque buildup, right? Unfortunately, this is not the case. The biggest advantage to hard and medium bristle products is that they last longer.

Typically, soft-bristle toothbrushes are the preferred recommendation from dentists and enthusiasts. Nearly everyone can benefit from switching to a soft-bristle toothbrush, as they cause less damage to teeth.

Even extra-soft-bristle toothbrushes (if you can find them) are recommended for adults, not just children.

Firm and stiff bristles put your teeth’ enamel at risk. Your enamel is what protects your teeth from bacteria and damage. When your enamel is damaged or eroded, you’re more at risk for plaque build-up and gum damage.

Soft bristle toothbrushes are excellent at removing plaque, bacteria, and residue without damaging your teeth. Hard bristle toothbrushes can be harder on your enamel and even damage your gums. With soft bristle toothbrushes, you don’t have to worry about these risks.

The 10 Best Toothbrushes to Buy in 2022

Three electric toothbrushes stand on the washbasin

Choosing the perfect toothbrush doesn’t end at the color or shade. Modern toothbrushes have a wide variety of features, specifications, and differences. This makes finding a suitable toothbrush challenging. But when it’s all said and done, the best toothbrush is the one you want to use.

Here are some of our top recommendations for 2022.

Oral-B Genius X Electric Toothbrush: The High-Tech Option

The Oral-B Genius X (on Amazon) is closer to an Apple Watch than a toothbrush. This high-tech, expert-backed toothbrush uses Bluetooth to connect to your smartphone. The Oral-B delivers personalized coaching to ensure you’re caring for your teeth in the best possible way.

Using the Bluetooth-connected app, you’ll receive notifications in real-time. The Oral-B Genius X will inform you whether you’re pressing too hard if you need more time or areas that need more attention.

The Oral-B has six cleaning modes, including options for sensitive mouths and gums. With a powered handle, three brush heads, a charge, and a travel case, you’ll be ready to tackle any buildup and debris.

Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Smart 9300: The Classic

The Phillips Sonicare DiamondClean (on Amazon) is a classic brush and recommendation. This toothbrush features five cleaning modes with three levels of intensity. The smart sensor offers real-time feedback and tracking.

The DiamondClean’s automatic pairing modes allow you to sync your toothbrush with the optimal brushing pattern. The powered handle, glass charger, travel case, three brush heads, and tongue brush will have you covered from top to bottom.

Dental Expert Charcoal Toothbrush: Our Budget Pick

If you’re on a budget, look no further than the Dental Expert Charcoal Toothbrush (on Amazon). For under $10, you can improve your oral hygiene by a substantial amount. The Charcoal Toothbrush features long, soft, and durable bristles.

The built-in charcoal properties enable this brush to fight plaque, buildup, and bacteria all throughout your mouth. Dental Expert’s Charcoal Toothbrush may lack some of the bells and whistles of other products, but it still gets the job done with ease.

Oral-B Vitality FlossAction Toothbrush: Another Budget Option

Although it’s not as affordable as the Dental Expert option above, the Oral-B Vitality FlossAction Toothbrush is another great value option under $30. Its micropulse bristles do a great job of removing plaque from teeth.

It even has a built-in timer that goes off after 2 minutes, which is the generally recommended amount of time to spend brushing.

iO Series 9 Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush: For Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive teeth and gums aren’t anything to scoff at and should be taken seriously. That’s where toothbrushes like the Oral-B iO Series 9 (on Amazon) come in. With the Oral-B app, you can track your brushing habits and receive real-time coaching.

This brush comes with seven modes, including sensitive and super-sensitive features. The pressure sensor is in place to protect your gums and enamel, while the built-in timer helps you stay focused.

Although the Oral-B iO Series 9 is best suited for sensitive teeth, that doesn’t stop it from effectively fighting plaque, debris, and bacteria.

Shyn Sonic Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush: Subscription Model

Our top subscription-based toothbrush is the Shyn Sonic Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush (on Amazon). Subscription toothbrush services are a recent creation. These services allow you to receive high-quality heads and bristles at a consistent rate.

The Shyn Sonic achieves over 31,000 brush strokes per minute, giving you a deep clean every time you brush. The five intensity levels, four cleaning modes, pressure sensor, and timer are to be expected. If you opt for the subscription plan, you can receive a replacement toothbrush every three months at a fraction of the cost.

Philips Sonicare Flexcare Platinum Connected Rechargeable Toothbrush

The Philips Sonicare Flexcare Platinum ToothBrush (on Amazon) is best suited for fighting plaque and hard-to-reach jobs. The Sonicare comes with a lot of the same features as previously listed models; Bluetooth technology, free apps, smart sensors, real-time feedback, etc.

What separates the Flexcare from its contemporaries is the oscillation speed. This toothbrush oscillates back and forth at nearly 20,000 cycles per second. With such a high frequency, the Sonicare blasts through plaque and debris with ease.

When you combine this speed with the different brush-heads, intensity settings, travel case, and other features, you have an extremely versatile device.

Rotadent Contour: For Receding Gums and Sensitivity

Receding gums, sensitivity, and general discomfort are not fun problems to have. Thankfully, solutions like the Rotadent Contour (on Amazon) exist. The 360-degree rotation and ultra-thin microfilament bristle tips allow this brush to reach challenging areas other models struggle with.

The Contour claims it can remove up to 92% of plaque in just one minute of brushing! While the Rotadent Contour lacks some of the glitz and glamor of other models, the incredibly gentle bristles are perfect for receding gums and sensitive teeth.

Philips One by Sonicare: For Travelers

You may not want to risk losing your $200 toothbrush in customs. Using a one-time-use disposable toothbrush may not be an appealing solution either. That’s where affordable travel-friendly toothbrushes like the Philips One (on Amazon) come into play.

The soft nylon bristles use micro-vibrations to gently remove plaque, debris, and bacteria. You can use the two-minute timer to stay focused and in control. The Philips One greatest selling features are its lightweight design, dependable battery life, and portable travel case.

This toothbrush makes the perfect travel companion or budget toothbrush for just under $25.

Philips Sonicare For Kids Power Toothbrush: For Kids

Getting your children to brush their teeth in the mornings can be a headache-inducing to say the least. Who can blame them? Kids’ toothbrushes are often mediocre and lack essential features. Thankfully, the Philips Sonicare for Kids (on Amazon) solves this problem with ease.

This toothbrush comes with removable stickers, allowing your children to personalize their devices. The “kidpacer” music alerts will guide your child through the brushing process, resulting in more effective dental hygiene.

With the free interactive Bluetooth app, you and your children will track their progress and learn how to brush their teeth the right way. Although the Philips Sonicare for Kids is designed for a younger audience, they haven’t skipped out on necessary features even adults approve of.

Waterpik Sonic-Fusion 2.0 Profesional Electric Toothbrush and Water Flosser Combo

If you’re searching for the perfect combination device, look no further than the Waterpik Water Flosser (on Amazon). The Waterpik is a cult favorite, providing the best features of toothbrushes and flossers in one device. This product has three modes, two brush speeds, built-in timers, pressure settings, and more.

The Waterpik claims to be twice as effective as traditional brushing and flossing. Although this device takes up a substantial amount of counter space, the Waterpik Water Flosser Combo is an excellent two-in-one device.

The Best Toothbrush Is The One You Want to Use

When you really get down to it, the best toothbrush is the one you want to use. We won’t tell you what color is best, but we will let you in on what the dentists and professionals recommend. To wrap it up, there are a few common features dental professionals recommend:

  • Soft Bristles
  • Ergonomic designs
  • Electric is better than manual
  • Rechargeable is better than battery-operated
  • ADA approved
  • Adequately sized

Regardless of whether your brush is electric or manual, soft or hard, Bluetooth or not, brushing your teeth is crucial to your dental hygiene and health. If none of our recommendations above suit your fancy, opt for soft-bristled toothbrushes that are ADA-approved.

Otherwise, you can always ask your dentist what they recommend for you and your oral hygiene.

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