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How to Choose a Toothbrush

Photo credit: iStock/seb_ra

Photo credit: iStock/seb_ra

Selecting a toothbrush seems like simple science: Bristles? Check. Handle? Check. But while the primary considerations seem relatively straightforward, there are a variety of features to keep in mind. Nowadays, you can purchase everything from a frills-free manual toothbrush to a top-of-the-line, electric version. With all the options it can be tricky to decide which is better: the new tech or your old standby? To help, here are all of the factors to consider before buying your next toothbrush. 

  1. Check the label. Toothbrushes that have been examined for safety and efficacy will have an American Dental Association (ADA) seal. To earn the certification, the brushes must be safe for mouths and feature bristles that aren’t jagged or susceptible to shedding.
  2. Bristles are key. You don’t want to irritate gums or damage enamel with a bristle that is too stiff. Err on the side of a softer bristle — they come in soft, medium and hard — to ensure you do not harm gums or tooth enamel. Also, select a brush head that fits your mouth. Your dentist can make specific recommendations based on your oral health history.
  3. Choose a brush you can keep clean. Toothbrushes can be breeding grounds for bacteria. Avoid this by purchasing a toothbrush that you feel comfortable replacing every three to four months (the suggested period of time to own them). Do the same with powered toothbrushes by ensuring you have back-up toothbrush heads for when it’s time to retire old ones. Some new subscription services allow users to purchase a powered toothbrush refill plan in advance. Otherwise, be sure to store toothbrushes separately, upright and away from tight, moist places to reduce bacteria growth.
  4. Weigh the benefits of manual versus powered. Powered toothbrushes are not only great for a deep, fresh-from-the dentist clean, but they’re also particularly helpful for people who have arthritis. Little ones may also prefer powered toothbrushes. One study, for example, showed that using a powered toothbrush significantly improved oral health by reducing plaque and gingivitis. The goal should always be to brush two times a day, and if one tool is more comfortable than the other, it might be best to opt for the one that lends itself to consistent brushing. Manual toothbrushes can still be effective when used properly.
  5. Assess the extras. Dental hygiene has come a long way and now you can buy all sorts of toothbrushes: charcoal-based, eco-friendly or a variety equipped with “stain erasing cups.” The sheer variety of extras is staggering. Luckily, you can zero in on the most important features (like a built-in tongue cleaner) and make your decision accordingly.

Tip: As important as it is to brush twice daily, nothing beats a visit to a dentist for a thorough cleaning. Independence Blue Cross offers affordable dental plans for adults age 19 and older* to help you maintain good oral health.

Get more information on how Independence Blue Cross can be a part of your plan for health and wellness.

Sponsor content is created for IBX by Philadelphia magazine as a marketing collaboration with IBX. This material is intended for reference and information only and should not be used in place of advice from a doctor or suitable qualified healthcare professionals.

*Pediatric Dental (up to age 19) coverage is included with all Independence Blue Cross Individual Medical policies except for Personal Choice Bronze Basic, which does not include Pediatric Dental.