Types of Toothbrushes: Which One Should You Choose?

Manufacturers have come up with many different types of toothbrushes. Before you even get to electric toothbrushes, the manual ones will offer you very many types. Learning about each toothbrush is important for you to make a proper choice of brushing tools. You should swap your toothbrush every three months or after every tooth cleaning procedure. Your doctor might even make the replacement for you. Still, you will need to know if the toothbrush is ideal for your condition. This guide will help you understand the types of toothbrushes on the market.

There are two broad classifications of toothbrushes: manual and electric. We will discuss the different types of toothbrushes in these categories below.

Manual Toothbrushes

Manual toothbrushes have been used since time immemorial. They are operated by hand. Throughout history, people have been coming up with design variations of manual toothbrushes, and these have led to the development of many types. Classifications of manual brushes are based on:


The hardness of the bristles varies, and this is very important to check when buying a toothbrush. Going for a very hard toothbrush can cause injuries to your gums.


For most people, a soft toothbrush is recommended since it is easier on the gums and teeth. This is, especially important for people with soft gums. If your tooth enamel seems to be corroding, your doctor will also strongly recommend an extra soft toothbrush.


Medium types are good enough for people with average dental conditions, though you would be better off sticking to your doctor's recommendation.


Harder bristles are only good for people with very tough gums. Firm bristle toothbrushes are quite difficult to find on the market now because of the increasing preference for softer alternatives. The hard bristles are likely to cause gum recession, lesions, and bleeding, depending on how much force you use when cleaning your teeth.

TIP:   The only advantage of harder toothbrushes is that they tend to clear more plaque than their softer substitutes. So, a toothbrush of medium hardness can do the job perfectly. In the process of cleaning your teeth, harder brushes are even likely to wear away your enamel. The cons of harder brushes heavily outweigh the pros. You should, therefore, always choose soft or medium brushes. Besides your oral care needs, you also need to take into account the dental issues you may be having, even if temporary.

Shape of Head:

Toothbrush heads can either be conventional or diamond shaped. The shape of the head should feel comfortable in your mouth. If your brushing experience is comfortable, you are more likely to spend the recommended two minutes cleaning your teeth. Worse conditions will make you rush when brushing teeth, and this will give sub-optimal results.

Diamond Shaped Toothbrush


Diamond shaped toothbrushes have narrow tips. This shape allows the bristles to get to the back and sides of your molars.


Conventional toothbrush heads are larger than diamond shaped brushes. Very large heads could pose a challenge when cleaning of molars and premolars.

TIP:   It is important to change your toothbrush head every three months for proper dental health. In case the bristles begin to show signs of wear and tear before the three months, you should replace the head sooner. You can try different shapes and sizes to find those that feel most comfortable in your mouth.

Bristle Pattern

Dental associations have set standards for the design of toothbrush bristles. For example, the bristles can't be made with sharp edges. The bristles should also not fall off under normal use. Within these restrictions, manufacturers have been able to come up with bristle patterns that are claimed to offer different levels of efficiency. Also, researchers and authorities in the field don't hold the view that the bristle pattern can affect the efficiency of the toothbrush.

With regard to bristle pattern, you have the option of the block, wavy, tapered multi-level, criss-cross, and polishing cup designs. The most common bristle pattern is the block design. It features bristles with equal height and spacing. The tapered multi-level bristle design is also quite popular, and is considered by many to be more efficient in reaching the hidden sections of teeth.

  • WAVY

(Multi-Level) This is more efficient in reaching the hidden sections of teeth.

tapered charcoal toothbrush

Your choice of the bristle pattern should be informed by your dental condition or historical dental diseases.

Handle Design

Handles for toothbrushes vary from basic to quite complex designs. Manufacturers are free to come up with creative handle designs, although four broad classes of designs have been established. These are the straight, contra-angle, flexible, and no-slip grip.


These the most basic designs and most people find them uncomfortable to use. With straight handles, you will have a harder time accessing teeth at the back of your mouth.

straight toothbrush

The handle should also be thin enough to fit into your mouth and in your hand. If it is too big for your oral cavity, you might not be able to reach the molars and back sections of your teeth.

Choosing the design should mostly be based on whatever you find convenient and comfortable. As mentioned before, a more comfortable experience will encourage you to spend the recommended two minutes of brushing your teeth.

Baby Toothbrush

Baby toothbrushes are quite different from normal ones. They have large handles and small heads to fit perfectly in the small oral cavities of kids. Many parents stick to soft gauzes and cloths for the purpose of cleaning the babies' teeth, but these toothbrushes can do a great job. Professionals actually recommend the use of baby toothbrushes for cleaning the teeth of infants.

Baby toothbrushes are typically made of very soft bristles and small heads. There are baby toothbrushes that are made to fit onto an adult finger as well. To remove plaque from your baby's teeth, you should always use a product designed specifically for infants. These are usually better designed for their state. It is recommended to brush your baby's teeth twice a day, preferably before they go to bed at least. This prevents the build-up of plaque in their teeth and also prevents the bacteria from multiplying in the calm mouth environment at night.

baby finger toothbrush

Teaching your baby to brush their teeth will instill the daily habit in them, and this will go a long way in ensuring proper dental health later in life. Even though their teeth are temporary, keeping them in peak condition will help in the development of paths for permanent teeth that will follow when growing. Kids also need healthy teeth to speak clearly and chew food.

Baby toothbrushes should be replaced every three months as well or earlier if needed.

Kid's Toothbrush

Kids over five years old use toothbrushes with thinner handles compared to those of toddlers. This is because they have greater tooth surfaces to cover and have also developed a stronger grip on the tools. For kids around this age, brushing may not be the most fun activity of the day.

To encourage your kids to brush their teeth regularly, you can go for toothbrushes with superhero and cartoon characters drawn on them. Kids' toothbrushes usually have designs to get kids more interested in the activity. Try to help them learn how to brush if they haven't quite grasped the proper brushing tactic. Alternatively, get them a powered toothbrush. Making it a family routine to brush teeth together can also get them to appreciate the activity as they grow up.

If the child has trouble using the brush, you can choose to find a different design. Ergonomic designs can make it easier for them to brush teeth, and this will encourage them to make it a daily habit. Like adults, the young should brush their teeth twice a day.

Interdental Toothbrush

Interdental toothbrushes are not meant to be used on their own. They should always serve as compliments to your main toothbrush. These toothbrushes are meant to reach the sections of your teeth that are normally inaccessible by your normal toothbrush. Interdental toothbrushes should always be disposed of after use. Using interdental toothbrushes reduces your risk of developing gum diseases, cavities, and bad breath.

Interdental toothbrushes clean the sections between your teeth. If you wear braces, they can also be used to clean the areas between the wires and teeth. This helps to keep your mouth free of plaque and bacteria, which allows you to enjoy optimum dental health.

Tepe Interdental Toothbrushes

These toothbrushes come in different sizes and usually are made with respect to color codes. The brushes have a rank from 1 to 7. Their heads are also designed differently to suit people with varying needs. They can either be straight or angled. Generally, angled heads are better for accessing areas in the back of your teeth. Molars are also better cleaned with angled-headed interdental toothbrushes. The handles can be long or short. You should always go with the length that gives you greater convenience when brushing your teeth.

For a better brushing experience, you can also go for a toothbrush with a flexible neck. This will allow you better access to the teeth.


Normal toothbrushes can clean the teeth above the gums. People with gum diseases will find it hard to use normal brushes for the areas below the gums. Gum diseases lead to the development of pockets under the gums, and these provide perfect breeding grounds for bacteria. With these pockets, the bacteria can thrive and even damage your gums and teeth further. This is why the Sulcabrush was developed. It was introduced by a dentist who was trying to get his patient to floss regularly.

With a normal toothbrush, you will not be able to access the pockets under the gums. If you try, you are very likely to end up with bleeding gums after the exercise. This is, especially common for people with dental diseases.

The Sulcabrush is made of a single tuft, and this is meant to be used vertically. It should then be pressed on the surface of the teeth and wiggled in a way that allows the bristles to slay out. The arrangement of the bristles is made to resemble an arrow since this will adapt it to the nature of the gums. Every tooth should be cleaned individually, and the brush should be rinsed after you clean a single tooth.

The Sulcabrush is said to slow down gum disease and reduce bleeding.

End Tuft Brush

End tuft toothbrushes are also known as single-end tufted brushes. These are meant to compliment your regular toothbrush as they are more capable of getting to inaccessible areas of your teeth. The designs of the toothbrushes vary. Some have wider or longer handles. The shapes of the tufts also differ.

End tuft brushes are used to clean crowded teeth, molars, and areas between braces, dentures, bridges, and implants. Teeth that are positioned next to gaps are also best cleaned with this brush.

The proper use of this tool involves the slow movement of the brush along the gum lines.

Chewable Toothbrush

If you experience trouble brushing your teeth or are pressed for time, you can simply use a chewable toothbrush. When chewing this brush, you need to make sure it touches all parts of your teeth. In addition to cleaning your teeth, chewable toothbrushes will also leave you with a fresh breath. Chewable toothbrushes do not require the use of toothpaste or even water. You will need to dispose of the brush after use.

Travel Toothbrush

Travel toothbrushes are optimized for movement. They usually come with carrying cases for storage after use. Often, the traveling cases can accommodate more than just your toothbrush. You can store all your grooming tools in it when traveling. These brushes come in two designs:


These travel toothbrushes can be folded up and packed neatly into a suitcase. They are designed to minimize bulk.

Single use toothbrush

With this toothbrush, you don't need water or toothpaste as the toothpaste is already in the head of the brush. Such brushes also come with mint to freshen your breath.

disposable toothbrush

Environmentally Friendly Toothbrush

Most brushes are made of plastic. Since they need to be replaced often, there is considerable harm done to mother nature. Plastic is a non-biodegradable material that contributes to the pollution of the environment. To care for the planet, you can choose a toothbrush that is made of materials like bamboo. In addition, you should go for a toothbrush with a replaceable head.

bamboo toothbrush

Electric Toothbrush

electric brush heads

Also known as powered toothbrushes, these tools offer greater levels of convenience to users at all times. The brush makes quick motions that don't require the input of the user. The movement can be back and forth oscillations or rotations. Those that use the oscillatory motions require users to move the brush from tooth to tooth as they brush their teeth. Electric toothbrushes that use vibrating motions are used just like traditional alternatives. The only difference is that the brush makes the back and forth movements for you. Vibrating brushes are usually more expensive than rotating options.

There are different types of electric brushes. They include:

Counter oscillating

Dual Head

Side to Side


Electric toothbrushes are usually controlled by motors. You don't need to buy a new electric toothbrush often. Instead, you should simply replace the head. This should be done every three months for optimal outcomes.

electric toothbrush

Since they run on electricity, powered brushes have to be recharged. Their battery lives vary. The best electric brushes on the market can run for 6 weeks before the battery dies. If you intend to travel with your electric toothbrush, you should remember to carry its charger too.

Powered toothbrushes can offer you greater convenience. They can be used to time your brushing sessions and sense how much pressure you are using. To reduce the discomfort of the vibrations, you can go for brushes with soft grip handles.


Dentists and manufacturers come up with great ideas and designs for brushes. These are meant to make brushing simpler, more comfortable, and convenient. You can use manual or electric brushes to clean your teeth. Many different varieties have been developed under these major categories. The descriptions in this article should give you a good idea of what each type offers. You should always go for the most comfortable and efficient brush. Always remember to replace your brush as soon as the bristles start to wear. If they never show such signs, remember to still dispose of them after the third month of use.

Did you find this guide helpful? Have any comments or questions? Please let us know in the comment section below.

Aurora is the lead editor here at pearlywhytes.com. She is one of those people who actually likes going to the dentist. She loves to write about anything health related, but oral health is her most passionate topic. Her free time is spent partaking in family activities and experimenting in the kitchen.

Click here to add a comment

Leave a comment: