No one wants to buy a toothbrush. But when you’re trying to figure out which one is worth your teeth and money at the store, how do you know which is best when the only differences you see are that some are blue, some are orange, and some are ridiculously fancy? Chances are you just pick whichever is cheapest or follow a “this-looks-decent”-approach. The truth is that you aren’t necessarily wrong.
“Get the toothbrush that you feel is going to be the right size for you,” says American Dental Association Spokesperson Dr. Genaro (Gene) Romo. “The other thing I always say is make sure it’s a soft toothbrush.” And if possible, you should also look for the ADA label on the packaging, according to Dr. Romo — it’s a sign that it’s been tested and approved for you to use each morning and evening.
But how do you know when to buy a new brush? Every three to four months, Dr. Romo adds. While the bristles on some brushes will indicate when it’s time to make the switch, he explains that — even though it might sound obvious — you just have to be observant and inspect the quality of your brush. For example, are the bristles looking flatter? “That’s a dead giveaway,” he says. When you see the electric toothbrush, Dr. Romo says you’re probably better off going manual. “You could actually do a very thorough job just by using an ADA-approved manual toothbrush, as long as you’re doing it twice a day for two minutes each time, and then floss regularly,” he explains. “If you follow that regimen, then that’s enough to do a good job.” But that doesn’t mean power brushes should always be dismissed. Dr. Romo says that a “child who’s having a hard time cooperating” might benefit from a power brush, or someone with arthritis who has trouble holding a smaller handle.
Keeping this advice in mind, we picked four brushes — from a manual to electric, recycled to just plain cool — that you can’t really go wrong buying. Just try to remember to floss next time.