Manual toothbrushes – which to choose?

There are heaps of different types and styles of manual toothbrushes. Just walk down the toothbrush aisle at any supermarket or chemist, and you’ll see a wall of toothbrushes to choose from. But which brush is the most suitable for you?

For some, buying a new toothbrush is a regular purchase made every three months, that doesn’t require much thought. Consumers are likely to choose a toothbrush based on its brand, cost and appearance. However, choosing the right brush for the right reasons is crucial, if you want to maximise the efficiency and safety of your daily oral care routine.

To make things easier, here are some tips to remember the next time you buy a toothbrush:
Bristle texture – soft or hard?

  • Soft toothbrushes are most recommended by dentists for your daily brushing needs. Soft toothbrushes are gentle on your tooth enamel and gums. In fact, you can reduce your risk of soft tissue damage by up to 50% by using a soft nylon toothbrush in comparison to a medium-hard toothbrush. You can remove food debris and plaque just as well as a harder toothbrush, as long as you brush carefully and thoroughly.
  • Medium to Hard toothbrushes are a cleaning option recommended for occasional use, like once a week, if you need to clean stubborn stains – but only if you have good enamel and healthy gums! The risk with harder toothbrushes is that if you apply too much pressure when brushing, in time you may wear away your tooth enamel resulting in tooth sensitivity, and cause gum recession to develop.

If you do have problem areas that are difficult to clean, consult your dentist. Only dentists can safely remove difficult stains and tartar build-ups without damaging your teeth and gums.

End-rounded bristles are safer for your gums

Recent clinical research by Dutch researchers has revealed that you may experience gum abrasion, damage and recession by brushing with tapered, or 0% rounded, bristled toothbrushes.

In the Dutch study, researchers concluded that toothbrushes with 0% rounded bristles were unsafe. They caused significantly more gum (or gingival) abrasions than toothbrushes with over 40-90% end-rounded bristles. That’s important information. The trouble is, not all toothbrush manufacturers include bristle end properties in their product information descriptions – so look out for toothbrushes with product info that clearly states that the bristle or filament ends are rounded.

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Small-headed toothbrushes for a deeper clean

Big brush headed toothbrushes might seem better for a faster clean, but what they don’t do is fit into those tiny spaces behind your back molar teeth, and in between dental devices, such as braces. Children also need smaller-headed toothbrushes for smaller mouths. That’s why dentists recommend small-headed toothbrushes. Small and slimmer headed toothbrushes are better designed to access and clean those small, harder-to-reach spaces in your mouth – for a deeper clean.


Hennequin-Hoenderdos, N., Slot, D., Van der Sluijs, E., Adam, R., Grender, J., & Van der Weijden, G. (2016). The effects of different levels of brush end rounding on gingival abrasion: a double-blind randomized clinical trial. International Journal of Dental Hygiene, 15(4), 335-344. doi:10.1111/idh.12212