Choosing a Toothbrush & How To Best Use It
May 22, 2020
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If you take a trip down the oral health aisle, you’re faced with a dizzying array of toothbrush choices. How do you choose which one is right for you?

Soft bristles or extra soft bristles are the most important toothbrush characteristic. Contrary to popular opinion, medium or hard bristles do not remove more plaque or calculus than the soft or extra soft bristles. The rigid bristles can’t bend to get between your teeth or under your gumline so they may actually leave more plaque behind than their softer counterparts. They may also hurt your gums by causing small tears in your gum tissue and can also damage your tooth.

You should pick a brush head size that is small enough to reach your back molars. Despite all the marketing hype, bristle design seems to have no effect on how well the toothbrush removes plaque.  Kids might like a brush with a favorite character or design on it.

Electric toothbrushes have been shown to have some improvement over manual toothbrushes in removing plaque from teeth. The rotating brush head does a better job at getting in between your teeth.

How To Best Use Your Toothbrush

Brush at least 2 times a day for at least 2 minutes each time. Kids use small circular motion. For adults, the wiggle and flick method is preferred.  (Ask your dentist or hygienist to demonstrate how you should brush.)

Use only a pea size amount of toothpaste because it bubbles up and gets foamy and don’t swallow your toothpaste.

After brushing, rinse your toothbrush and dry it thoroughly to keep bacteria at bay.

Skip plastic toothbrush covers. They trap moisture which creates a breeding ground for bacteria. A breathable fabric shield is a better choice (sold at most drugstores).

Store your toothbrush upright—laying it on its side puts in in contact with germ laden surfaces. If you share a toothbrush holder make sure the bristles of your toothbrush don’t touch another person’s toothbrush bristles. Store your toothbrush outside of the bathroom if you can.

You should replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months.

We used to say brush right after eating, but now we think brushing too soon after meals, snacks or sugary drinks (particularly acidic ones) or after acid reflux or vomiting may damage your teeth. Acid attacks your teeth and erodes your enamel and dentin. Brushing can wear away more of your tooth’s layers. Brushing right after eating may also push the acid deeper into your tooth. Studies show it’s best to wait 30 minutes or more after eating to brush your teeth. Rinse your mouth with plain water or 1 part baking soda to 8 parts water to neutralize acids while you are waiting to brush.

You can also learn more about this topic by going to the following Dear Doctor Library Articles:Tooth Decay PreventionHow To Brush

*Note: Information in this article is not intended to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare practitioners.


Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist who sees both adults and children.

1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd.
Lorain, OH 440-960-1940