Oral hygiene

The Best Toothbrush


Have you gone to the supermarket and in the toothbrush section you wander which toothbrush is the best? The toothbrushes come in different sizes, shapes, colors and designs. With various media advert, how then can I choose the best you may ask? Don’t worry I will be explaining all of that. 


What is a toothbrush?

A toothbrush is an oral hygiene device, which is used for cleaning the surfaces of the teeth, gums, tongue, cheeks, palate with the aim of removing food particles, microorganisms and their biofilm, dental plaque and to keep the mouth clean.

A little history on tooth brush: back in the days, people used various items to clean their mouth from tree twigs, miswak, pig hair, bird feathers and chewing stick. With the modern invention of the nylon toothbrush in 1938, this has become a more common device for cleaning the mouth.

There are two types of toothbrush bristles; the natural and nylon bristles. Nylon bristles are the ones predominately found in the shops.

Types of toothbrush

There are basically two types of toothbrush; the manual toothbrush and the electric toothbrush.

Manual Toothbrush

Manual toothbrush is the simple toothbrush you see in the supermarket or drug store. The manual toothbrush largely depends on the hand movement of the user, to effect the cleaning of the mouth. It is made up of the handle and the head which contains the bristles.

Electric Toothbrush

Electric toothbrushes use different oscillatory motion to clean the mouth. There are two types based on frequency: the sonic and ultrasonic toothbrush. Electric toothbrush can be a motivation to children who are reluctant to brush and also for those who have manual dexterity problems.

How to choose a good toothbrush

1. Based on the texture, the bristles can be hard, medium or soft. Some organisations recommend soft bristles while others prefer the medium bristles. Hard brushes have a higher tendency to wear off the gum and enamel at the neck of the tooth. This can result in enamel abrasion and gum injuries over time. Wonder why your teeth look longer or your tooth neck is visible, your toothbrush texture might be the culprit. The manufactures usually indicate the texture of the brush on the packaging as indicated below.


2. Usually, the size of the toothbrush head do not contribute to the cleaning of the mouth, but it has been discovered that smaller head increase access to the posterior (back) side of the mouth. In choosing the right size, children brushes should be smaller in general.

Which is the best toothbrush?

There is NO best toothbrush be it manual or electric. The toothbrush is a device in your hand. It’s usefulness depends on how effective you use it .Choosing between a manual or electric toothbrush is based on preference. Whichever you feel is better or based on your dentist recommendation then stick to it. Just the right technique of how to brush is needed.

How to brush correctly

Brushing is expected to be a pleasurable experience both for adults and children, so the right attitude should be adopted. A little music is recommended, especially for children such that brushing time becomes music time. The ideal length of time to brush is between 2-3 minutes, 2 times daily. To be sure you are brushing at least 2 minutes, a timer can be set, or just a music of 2-3 minutes duration can be used.   

A correct brushing technique is as important as the choice of the right toothbrush itself. There are various brushing techniques, but the most widely used is the modified bass technique. This technique is what I will be discussing on.

In brushing your teeth, there are three surfaces that must be cleaned each time; the outer, inner and occlusal (chewing) surfaces of the the teeth. Brushing can start at any side of the mouth but care should be taken to ensure that all sides are attended to at the end of brushing.


1. With your mouth open, place your brush at 45 degree angle to the tooth surface. Gently, using a small vibratory or rotatory movement, move along the teeth with a previous tooth overlap.

2. Brush the three surfaces of the teeth. The inner surfaces of the teeth is frequently ignored, so it’s advisable to have a sequence of brushing.

3. When cleaning the inner surface of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and use short up and down strokes.

4. Remember to brush the tongue, especially the back of the tongue because it harbors microorganism that can cause halitosis (bad breath).

When does brushing becomes harmful?

Brushing becomes harmful when you are using the wrong toothbrush, using the wrong technique(scrubbing) or applying hard force during brushing. Don’t brush your teeth as if you are scrubbing the back of your pot or fighting with the toothbrush. All that force/energy is not needed. The long term effect can cause trauma/injury to your gingivae and teeth. Also, brushing too many times a day is not necessary. If you have a concern, that makes you brush more frequently, then it will be advisable to see a dentist.

How do i know i brush effectively?

Ineffective brushing becomes obvious overtime. This can manifest in accumulation of plaque(deposit) around the neck of the teeth, leading to bleeding gums and in some cases halitosis(bad breath). There are over the counter plaque disclosing products that can show the accumulation of plaque in areas that are being neglected. 

Care of the toothbrush

1. After brushing, rinse your toothbrush thoroughly.

2. Don’t keep your toothbrush close to the toilet to minimize the accumulation of bacteria on the bristles.

3. Let your toothbrush air dry. Don’t keep your toothbrush in a case or with the head down in a cup because it leaves the toothbrush moist/damp and this can lead to microorganism growth.

4. Change your toothbrush every 3-4 months or less when you see the bristles are frayed.


5. Don’t share your toothbrush to avoid cross infection

In a nutshell, your toothbrush is one of the important device to clean your mouth. Treat your toothbrush like a password. Be protective about it and don’t forget to change it every 3-4 months before it is hacked by bacteria.

Let me know in the comment if this write up will influence your next choice of toothbrush and brushing pattern. Let someone know it’s as simple as ABC to choose a good toothbrush and brush correctly by sharing this post.

Thank you

Etetafia Deborah


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