Choosing the best toothbrush

There are many different manual and electric toothbrushes on the market. How do you choose the toothbrush that’s right for you?

Byline: Dr Ming Ong

Patients often ask what sort of toothbrush they should buy when they’re buying a new one. There are a few things to think about—some of which you may find surprising.

Firstly, it depends on how old you are. If you’re looking to buy a toothbrush for your child, I normally encourage use of a manual toothbrush for ages six and below. This is so the child learns how to brush their teeth manually, and to do it themselves. As a parent, if you’re helping them brush their teeth, I would also still use a manual toothbrush because with an electric toothbrush you might end up scaring the child.

From the age of six and older, you may consider an electric toothbrush. Generally speaking, if an electric toothbrush is used correctly, I believe it does do a much better clean than your manual toothbrush.

I would suggest just a basic rechargeable one—you don’t have to go to with all the bells and whistles and spend hundreds of dollars. A rechargeable electric toothbrush can sell in a supermarket on special for about $25 to $30. You can, of course, buy a battery-powered toothbrush, but we find when patients run out of batteries they think, ‘Oh I’ll just chuck it aside’, whereas when it’s rechargeable it’s easy to top it up. The other thing with electric toothbrushes is you should look out for a fairly common brand because it’s easy to get the replacement heads. I quite like the Oral B Braun ones for this reason.

If you do prefer a manual brush, always use the ‘soft’ or an ‘extra soft’ option. If you have sensitive teeth to begin with then I would recommend an extra soft toothbrush. The problem with the medium toothbrushes is you may feel as if you’ve had a much better clean, but with long-term use is it’s a bit too harsh for your gums and they cause your gums to shrink. At the same time you can wear away the enamel from your teeth, causing a lot of sensitivity.