Dentist Shares Tips for Choosing the Right Toothbrush

March 25, 2016 Updated: January 13, 2017

There are many reasons to get into a good oral hygiene routine—better breath, fewer cavities, and less bacteria in your mouth. One of the main considerations is preventing gum disease, which is a major factor for some serious conditions, including heart disease and diabetes.

But how do you choose a toothbrush that suits your needs? There are a lot of toothbrushes on the market, promising all sorts of things. What it comes down to is personal preference. Find one that’s feels comfortable, motivating you to brush regularly with proper technique.

Brushing Correctly

(Christopher Robbins/Photodisc/Thinkstock)
The key is not brushing too hard. (Christopher Robbins/Photodisc/Thinkstock)

Did you know that many people do not brush correctly? It’s not as easy as you think and requires some understanding of your mouth’s anatomy. The tooth and gum are not connected where they meet. In a healthy mouth, there’s a 1 to 3 millimeter gap under the gum line where bacteria sits and festers, causing all kinds of problems.

When brushing, you should angle the toothbrush 45 degrees and primarily aim for the gum line. I tell patients at my NYC dental office that the key is not brushing too hard. Many people brush hard, thinking that this will save time and they don’t have to brush the full one to two minutes.

Brushing too hard leads to wearing down the healthy tooth, causing the gum to recede and other complications. The roots of the tooth become exposed, thus creating an uncomfortable sensitivity to cold drinks and sweet treats.

Every time you brush your teeth, the bristles of the toothbrush get stuck in the notches, which get progressively deeper, not allowing the bristles to get under the gum to properly to clean away the bacterial plaque. For this reason, dentists generally recommend soft-bristled toothbrushes as opposed to harder toothbrushes.

Manual Toothbrushes


The advantage of a manual toothbrush is that it’s cheap, never runs out of batteries, and can do a thorough job if you brush properly. There are many brands that come in all types of colors and shapes. There is no one right toothbrush. What’s most important is that it feels comfortable and you know how to use it. Any toothbrush that is used incorrectly can damage your teeth.

When using a manual toothbrush, it is important to remember to get all the back teeth and the cheek side as well as the tongue side of the teeth. People also tend to neglect the lower teeth on the tongue side. Because there’s a saliva gland that shoots saliva on the backs of those teeth, they have a tendency to build up plaque and should be brushed twice a day.

Electric Toothbrushes

Electric toothbrushes can be more effective in plaque removal than manual brushes. (CentralITAlliance/iStock)

Electric toothbrushes can be more effective in plaque removal than manual brushes. They are a great option for people who have a tendency to brush too hard, because they are much gentler when used properly.

Another great feature is that they come with timers and ensure that you brush the proper amount of time. This is especially challenging for anyone faced with a busy morning or feeling tired at the end of the day.

It is a matter of personal choice. Not everyone likes electric toothbrushes, and not everyone wants to spend the extra money.

The toothbrush market is vast, with a multitude of brands and varying technologies to choose from. Often it’s a matter of trial and error to find the perfect match. If the choices become overwhelming, ask your dentist or hygienist which is the right one for you.

This article is sponsored by Gallery 57 Dental. Dr. Rebecca Koenigsberg practices general dentistry at Gallery 57 Dental and an dental practice in New York City. A graduate of Columbia University and an Invisalign-certified dentist, she focuses on providing patients a healthy, aesthetic smile.