What type of toothbrush is best?

What kind of toothbrush should I be using? This is one of the most common questions we get asked as dentists. While most frequently my answer will be an electric toothbrush is the best, sometimes this can depend on a patient’s needs.

Manual vs Electric Toothbrush

So lets talk differences between the manual and electric toothbrushes.

Manual Toothbrush


  • These brushes are cost effective, available to purchase almost anywhere and does not require any charging.
  • The toothbrush heads come in several sizes to fit your mouth. 
  • These brushes can also be more comfortable on your gums.


  • A manual toothbrush can be very effective at getting plaque and buildup off of your teeth, but it is very technique sensitive. 
  • There is no built in timer.
  • You are more likely to brush your teeth too hard with a manual tooth brush.

Electric Toothbrush


  • Electric toothbrushes eliminate much of the technique needed to brush when compared to a manual brush. 
  • You will often get more brushing done in two minutes with an electric toothbrush. 
  • They often have a built in timer and pressure sensor to prevent you from brushing too hard.
  • An electric toothbrush is easier to use for someone with limited mobility and for someone with braces.


  • These brushes are much more expensive than their manual counterparts.
  • Finding replacement heads can be difficult. 
  • People with sensitive teeth tend to feel like the electric brush is too hard on their teeth and makes them sensitive.

So, what toothbrush is best for YOU?

Overall, what is the best toothbrush? The one YOU will use! Weigh the pros and cons of each type for yourself and determine what will motivate you to brush your teeth.

Pro Tips for Brushing Your Teeth

Regardless of what type of brush you are using, there are a few common things you should be doing to ensure your teeth are being cleaned well:

  • Brush for 2 minutes twice daily
  • Brush all the surfaces of your teeth (people often skip behind their lower front teeth)
  • Use a soft bristle toothbrush
  • Don’t use too much pressure when brushing

Additional Dental Hygiene Tips

Here are a few additional tips you’ll want to remember:

Be sure and see your dentist for regular 6-month checkups and cleanings and discuss with them how you can improve your brushing. If you experience any bleeding, talk with your dentist. A number of things can cause bleeding when you brush and floss, such as:

Sometimes people have bleeding gums when they’ve gone too long between brushing and flossing, and the plaque really starts to build up. As you are gentle, brushing and flossing should not actually cause bleeding.

Do’s and Dont’s to Care for your Toothbrush

DO …

  • DO: Replace your toothbrush if you have been sick
    • It’s an easy fix to make sure lingering bacteria doesn’t lead to reinfection.
    • Flu viruses may survive on toothbrushes for up to three days after first exposure.
    • You can disinfect your toothbrush:
      • Soak your toothbrush in hydrogen peroxide for roughly 3-5 minutes
      • Rinse out thoroughly with hot water
  • DO: Store your toothbrush upright so it can dry faster. The best way to store toothbrushes is in an upright position near a window. Let the toothbrush air dry after each use. Keep your toothbrush away from another toothbrush; keep them far apart to prevent the spread of germs and bacteria.
  • DO: Replace your toothbrush every 3 months or sooner if the bristles are frayed. This goes for electric and manual toothbrushes as well. If you keep using an old toothbrush, it is less effective at cleaning plaque off of your teeth and at the gum line; it’s easy to see the bristles begin to bend out of shape.
  • DO: Rinse your toothbrush with tap water and allow to air dry. Your toothbrush has the dirty job of removing plaque and other soft debris from the teeth, which can cause it to become contaminated with bacteria, blood, saliva, oral debris, and toothpaste; yet another reason to rinse your toothbrush thoroughly with tap water after brushing.


  • Do Not place a cap on your toothbrush or put it in a container after you have used it. This can prevent your toothbrush from drying and encourage bacteria growth on the toothbrush. The ADA recommends storing your toothbrush out in the open (as opposed to placing it in a cabinet) so it can be exposed to air and sunlight so that it dries naturally before it’s used again that night or the next morning.
  • Do Not share your toothbrush. Each person has a unique set of bacteria in their mouth. If you share your toothbrush you also share your germs and bacteria which can cause cavities. Whether intentional or accidental, grabbing someone else’s toothbrush (or letting them use yours) can expose your teeth, gums, and mouth to many nasty things that can lead to illness and infection.
  • Do Not keep your toothbrush near your toilet. When you flush bacteria from the toilet can become airborne and end up on your toothbrush. One flush of the toilet produces thousands of tiny aerosol droplets, which can contain bacteria and viruses and contaminate surfaces up to six feet away. Pro Tip: close the lid before you flush!

Making a Difference with Oral Health

Preventing cavities is our goal and the main reason we wanted to chat about taking care of your toothbrush! We’re here to help you overcome any oral health challenges you or your family may be experiencing. Schedule a visit with us to discuss if this could be beneficial for your children.

Regular dental cleanings are important to ensure your preventative care routine is complete. Although you may be brushing and flossing your teeth really well at home, tartar and plaque is impossible to remove with regular brushing and flossing, and can build-up over time. Dentists are able to use specific tools to remove that plaque and tartar, keeping our mouth cleaner and our chances of other complications much lower.

Pick One & Brush Daily

Now that you know the differences between the different types of toothbrushes, choose what works best for you. Whatever helps keep you motivated to brush your teeth twice each day will be the best option and be sure to talk with your dentist about any questions you may have.

Work with Dr. Luff and her team to find the most effective solution for your smile! We are always accepting new patients in the Lee’s Summit, MO and surrounding area who are ready to improve the health of their teeth, their confidence and smile! Please call Luff Dental at (816) 875-3391 to schedule your appointment.