Ask Dr. D: Which Toothbrush Should I Use?

Dear Dr. Diesburg:

Does it really matter which toothbrush I use?

Donna in McMinnville, OR

Dear Donna,

A toothbrush is a tool.  If you have the right tool for a job it can make your life easier. For example, if you have a smaller mouth, a smaller toothbrush head might work better for you. If you have some gum recession and have spaces in-between your teeth, a tufted end can be useful.

But the effectiveness of a toothbrush really comes down to your technique and how often you use it. We’ve even seen patients put a toothbrush’s handle through a tennis ball to increase how well they can hold it.

Soft vs. hard
Using a hard toothbrush feels good, but with those toothbrushes it is very easy to scrub away dentin at the base of the tooth and push your gums back, causing recession. For that reason, we recommend using a toothbrush with soft or very soft bristles. That’s all we give out at our office.

Electric toothbrushes
There are a number of electric toothbrushes on the market. Research shows that if you are diligent about brushing and don’t have special problems in your mouth, a dedicated brusher can brush as well as an electric toothbrush. But if you don’t spend the 2 minutes each time you’re brushing and you can’t get the right angle,  an electric toothbrush can be of great benefit. Yes, they are expensive. But you don’t need all of the bells and whistles.

Sonicare and Oral B both have great electric toothbrushes for about $100.

Happy Brushing!

Dr. Adam Diesburg

Ask Dr. D is a a web series where Dr. Diesburg answers the dental care questions he fields most often from his patients. If you would like to ask Dr. Diesburg a question about any aspect of dental care, you can email him at adiesburgdds [at]

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