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The Ultimate Toothbrush Reference Guide – Part1: Manual Toothbrushes

There are an infinite amount of options out there when it comes to toothbrushes. Do you get one that has soft, medium or hard bristles? Electric or manual? Flexible or rigid handle? Most of the time, people grab whatever toothbrush is readily available without thinking about what their teeth actually need from a toothbrush. Using just any toothbrush for your teeth is like using just any old oil filter for your car. They may all do the same overall job but in very different ways.

In this first part of this series we will examine manual/traditional toothbrushes. The following is an overview of the different kinds of manual toothbrushes that you can find in any store today. If you ever have questions, you can always contact your dentist or give us a call to talk with one of our experts. 

Manual Toothbrushes

Now there aren’t necessarily a lot of different types of manual toothbrushes, rather they come in all different shapes and sizes. The primary components that vary from one manual toothbrush to another are the head shape, handle design, bristle hardness and bristle pattern. Each of those component variations can serve a different purpose depending on the user. 

Head Shape – Manual toothbrushes generally come with squared, rounded or diamond shaped heads. Squared heads are best for brushing larger surface areas all at once. That’s why horse toothbrushes are generally all squared. Diamond shaped heads are best for getting harder to reach areas in the back of the mouth. Rounded heads are a balance between squared and diamond heads, hence why they are the most common type found in retail stores. 

Squared Head Rounded Head

Diamond Head

Handle Design –  The most common types of handles are non-slip grip, flexible, contra-angle and straight. When it comes to choosing the right kind of handle, it’s all about comfort in your hand and making sure it doesn’t slip when you brush. Some straight handled brushes can feel like a tongue depressor in your mouth, hence why contra-angle brushes have gained in popularity. They can brush your teeth without knocking against the sides of your mouth or tongue. Flexible handles can keep you from brushing too hard while non-slip grips can give you a little extra power.

Straight Handle Contra-Angle Handle Flexible

Non-Slip Grip

Bristle Hardness – Bristle hardness generally comes in three different ratings: soft, medium, or hard. The softer your bristle is, the easier a toothbrush will be on your gums. Harder bristles are good for scraping off plaque but have a tendency to cause occasional gum bleeding. If you have healthy, regular brushing habits, softer brushes should work just fine. If you work in an environment where dust particles are in the air that could build up on your teeth from breathing, a harder bristle should be considered to keep your teeth as clean as possible. 

Bristle Pattern – Toothbrush bristle patterns seem to vary almost as much as toothbrushes themselves. However, there are four different types of bristle patterns that users have traditionally stuck with over the years: straight, wavy, crisscross, and tapered. Crisscross bristles are best for plaque removal. Wavy bristles are best for targeting the spaces between teeth while simultaneously cleaning the surface.

Straight Bristles

Wavy Bristles Crisscross Bristles

Tapered Bristles

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