If you’re thinking about buying a manual toothbrush, the choice is pretty overwhelming. And it’s important to choose a brush that’s right for your individual needs. After all, teeth are as unique as fingerprints – we can each be identified by our dental records!
So, in this article we answer the following questions to help guide your choice:
- Electric or manual – what are the pros and cons of a manual toothbrush?
- How do you use a manual toothbrush?
- How do you choose a manual toothbrush – what criteria should I consider?
After this, we provide concise reviews of five of the best toothbrushes on the market today. And we tell you what needs each brush is particularly engineered to meet.
Pros and cons of a manual toothbrush
Electric toothbrushes are popular. But there are lots of good reasons to use a manual toothbrush instead.
- Gives you more control over brushing action
- Does not run out of batteries
- Light and portable
- Used correctly, it’s as effective as an electric toothbrush (American Dental Association)
- Easily replaced
- No automatic pacer or timer
- Relies more on good brushing technique
- The whole unit needs replacing every three months or so (when the bristles wear) which causes environmental concerns.
How do you use a manual toothbrush?
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends you brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes.
- Place a pea sized amount of toothpaste on the brush
- Hold the brush at a 45° angle to your gum
- Move the brush in circular motions around the mouth using gentle pressure
- Use this movement to clean all sides of your teeth: front, back and chewing surfaces.
- To clean the inside of your front teeth, hold the brush vertically and use up and down strokes.
- Then lightly brush your tongue to remove bacteria lurking there.
Finally, you should floss too. Brushing only cleans part of your tooth. Surfaces between teeth are not completely cleaned.
How to choose a manual toothbrush
Not all toothbrushes are the same. Neither are all mouths! This can make finding the right toothbrush for you a bit of a headache.
Ultimately, the best toothbrush is the one that you feel comfortable and confident using. This turns brushing into a pleasure, not a chore. So here are 7 key factors to consider to help optimize your brushing experience:
- Size– Children have smaller mouths, but even adults can have mouths of a different shape and size. To be comfortable and effective a toothbrush must be size appropriate.
- Handle – should be contoured, easy to grip and preferably non-slip.
- Bristle type-the ADA recommend soft bristles to protect tooth enamel. They’re also kinder to soft tissue and still effective at removing plaque when used correctly.
- Numbers of bristles-the standard amount is between 500-1000. The greater the number of bristles, the more effective the clean.
- Bristle variety– Bristles are cut and grouped in different ways. Some are cut diagonally, others are rounded. Rounded ends are kinder to tooth enamel and better at polishing. Bristles can be the same or differing lengths and be grouped in angled criss-cross clusters. Research suggests that tuft arrangements of different lengths and angles are more effective at reducing plaque.
- Head Shape and Size– Head size is a matter of personal preference-though dentists tend to favor smaller sizes. In terms of shape, diamond and rounder shaped heads are better for cleaning hard to reach areas.
- Orthodontics-If you have braces or other orthodontic fittings, you could benefit from a specially designed toothbrush.
With these factors in mind, what is the best manual toothbrush for you? We have selected five great brushes and evaluated them against the key factors that should figure in your deliberations. More detailed reviews appear below:
Five best Manual Toothbrushes:
|Oral-B Pro Health All In One||Best overall|
|Nimbus Microfine compact||Best for small mouths and sensitivity|
|Curaprox CS5460 Ultra soft||Highest bristle density for maximum clean|
|Dr Collins Perio Toothbrush||Best manual toothbrush for gum health and those with orthodontics|
|Colgate 360 Soft Toothbrush||Best budget product|
Oral B Pro Health All in one Soft Toothbrush
- #1 dentist and hygienist recommended brand
- removes 99% of plaque in awkward areas
- Contoured easy grip handle
- Available in either soft or medium bristles
- Round ended bristles of different lengths provide better clean along gum line
- Angled, criss-cross arrangement of bristles provides thorough cleaning
- Blue indicator bristles fade when brush needs replacing
- Tongue and cheek cleaner on the back of the brush
- Sides of toothbrush provide gentle gum massage
- Some users find the brush head too large for the back of their mouths
- Handle is too large to fit some toothbrush holders
Is the Oral B Pro Health All in One Soft right for me? If you’re looking for a toothbrush from the number one recommended brand, this is a great option.
Its criss cross bristle arrangement provides enhanced plaque removal and the tongue/cheek cleaner leave your entire mouth feeling fresh.
The brush head also features soft rubber gum massagers. These increase blood flow and help to keep gums healthy.
The brush head is fairly long and broad which provides great coverage over tooth surfaces.
Another great Oral B alternative is the Oral B Pro Health Clinical Pro Flex. It has flexible sides that adjust to the contours of your teeth.
However, if you have a small mouth or a sensitive gag reflex, you may find the Oral B toothbrush head a little uncomfortable. In this case try the Nimbus Microfine Compact manual toothbrush (reviewed below).
Nimbus Microfine Compact Toothbrush
- Created by a periodontist
- Comfortable contoured grippy handle with lots of color choice
- Fine bristles provide effective cleaning and short support bristles remove plaque.
- Compact size excellent for small mouths
- Ultra soft bristles for sensitive gums and teeth
- Long tapered extra fine bristles reach awkward areas
- Shorter bristles ensure plaque removal
- Each brush in the pack individually wrapped for hygiene
- Bristle clusters are not angled or criss crossed
- Single pack unavailable so you must commit to multiple brushes
Is the Nimbus Microfine Toothbrush right for me? If you have ultra sensitive teeth and gums this is a toothbrush you should definitely consider. Especially if you find larger toothbrush heads uncomfortable.
It is specifically designed to ensure it does “no harm” but still effectively clean teeth and gums.
The longer bristles ensure hard to reach areas are gently cleaned while plaque is removed by the shorter bristles.
The handle is engineered to give you great control over your brushing action and the small head makes cleaning back teeth a breeze.
This manual toothbrush is very positively reviewed on Amazon where it is a best seller. Its fans love its soft gentle action. Users with braces also find that the ultra fine long bristles provide an excellent clean.
With it being so super soft, if you love it and have young children you might want to try the NIMBY Children’s Toothbrush too!
Curaprox CS5460 Ultra Soft Toothbrush
- Octagonal shaped handle makes the brush easier to grip and lots of color choice
- Bristles are ultra thin (called filaments) + there are over 10 times more than on a regular toothbrush for maximum clean
- They are rounded and ultra gentle to protect teeth and gums
- The filaments are made from CUREN which is more comfortable and stable in the mouth than nylon
- Small angled head gives easy reach to awkward areas
- Octagonal head shape gives precise handling in hard to reach areas
- Available individually or value multi-packs
- Some users find the handle too small
- Others find the density of the bristle clusters make it hard to clean nooks and crannies
Is the Curaprox CS5460 right for me? If you favor a smaller sized brush (both in terms of head size and handle) and you want an ultra gentle toothbrush, Curaprox is a sound choice. It’s easy to move the brush around all areas of your mouth to clean back teeth effectively.
The bristles are so fine they are referred to as filaments and there up to 10 times more of them on the brush head. This makes for a more thorough clean.
Plus Curaprox is a Swiss company with nearly 50 years of experience in the oral health industry. And its products are highly recommended by oral hygienists.
However, if you have large hands or dexterity issues some users feel that the handle is too small. If this is the case, you may want to go for the Oral B Pro-Health reviewed above.
Dr Collins Perio Toothbrush
- Contoured handle with non slip thumb grip and elongated neck for better reach
- Super soft, fine bristles made from polyester to prevent paste build up and promote hygiene
- Tapered bristles reach tight spaces and are soft enough to massage gums without bleeding
- Suitable for anyone with gum recession or orthodontic fittings
- Regular sized toothbrush head
- No criss cross arrangement of bristles
- Some users find the curve and stiffness of the handle awkward
- The head size may not suit small mouths
Is the Dr Collins Toothbrush right for me? If you suffer from gum recession or have braces this toothbrush is an excellent choice. It is also suitable for anyone with sensitivity or who is undergoing gum therapy or orthodontic treatment.
The brush head has ultra thin, tapered gentle filaments which clean effectively, especially in tight spaces and around braces. These filaments are gentle enough to massage the gums to promote blood flow and gum health.
The polyester filaments are more hygienic as they prevent build up of paste and bacteria. They are super slim and soft with a tapered design which means they clean tight areas effectively whilst being soft enough to massage gums and promote gum health.
Most users find the handle comfortable and grippy. However, it is quite curved and rigid and a small minority have found it awkward to use.
This toothbrush is another Amazon best seller with over 800 5* reviews. However, if you are looking for something similar with a smaller head size the Nimbus Superfine Compact Toothbrush (reviewed above) may suit you better.
Colgate 360 Soft Toothbrush
- Well known, long standing respected brand
- Comfortable sturdy handle with thumb grip
- Bristles of different lengths arranged in 3 circular polishing cups
- Reduces 151% more bacteria than a flat trim toothbrush
- Bristle arrangement reaches the back of the mouth comfortably
- Cheek and tongue cleaner on the back of the brush
- Soft bristles minimize enamel damage
- Wide head makes it easier to massage gums while brushing
- The bristle arrangement (3 circular polishing cups) means you need to use a little more toothpaste
- May not suit smaller mouths (despite being a compact head it is quite wide)
- Some users find the bristles too hard
Is the Colgate 360 Soft Toothbrush right for me? If you want good oral health without the extra expense then yes.
The bristles of different lengths and are arranged in three circular polishing cups. This provides far superior cleaning than brushes with a flat even trim. It also enables you to clean both sides of your teeth as well as the chewing surface at the same time.
The broad head enables you to massage your gums whilst cleaning front and rear surfaces. And the back of the head has a cheek/tongue cleaner to eliminate the bacteria that lurk there and cause bad breath.
This is an efficient, no-nonsense toothbrush. However, some users find the bristles are still a little hard. If you have ultra sensitive teeth and gums you may find the Nimbus or Curaprox (reviewed above) are a better, albeit more expensive, option.
- Manual toothbrushes are lighter and more portable than electric toothbrushes
- The ADA confirm that they are as effective as electric toothbrushes if correct brushing technique is used
- The ADA recommend soft bristles in order to protect tooth enamel
- Several factors need to be considered when choosing a manual toothbrush
- Of all the factors we have considered, the size of the brush head and the arrangement of the bristles are the most important. Tuft arrangements of different lengths and angles are more effective at reducing plaque and only if the brush is the right size will brushing be comfortable and pleasurable.
- And, lastly, brushes should be replaced roughly every 3 months as worn bristles can do more harm than good