The Different Types of Toothbrushes, Explained

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that adults brush their teeth at least two times per day. However, research shows that around half of Americans aren’t following these guidelines.

Are you guilty of skipping a morning or evening session yourself? If so, the right toothbrush can make all the difference!

When you find one that cleans well and works for you, you may find that it’s easier to remember this daily habit. Today, we’re taking a look at all of the different types of toothbrushes on the market, so you can make an informed purchasing decision.

Manual Toothbrushes

When you think of a classic toothbrush, you’re probably envisioning a manual one. These are the standard designs that your dentist gives you after every visit.

While manual toothbrushes are relatively straightforward, there are differences and nuances to know. Let’s take a look at four ways these brushes can vary.

Bristle Hardness

Most people prefer soft bristles, as they’re the easiest on your teeth and gums. However, for an even deeper clean, you can also find medium bristles and hard bristles.

As you shop, keep in mind that while a harder toothbrush is a more powerful opponent against sticky plaque, it can irritate your gums if you brush too aggressively. It could even wear down your enamel, so only go this route if your dentist recommends it.

Head Design

As you search for the best toothbrush, pay close attention to the shape of the head. Most toothbrushes are round or square on top, though you can also find diamond-shaped heads.

In addition to looking unique, the latter is also a little better at accessing those hard-to-reach areas around your back molars.

Handle Shape

On the toothbrush aisle, you might be surprised to notice how many different handle designs you see! The four most common types include:

  • Straight handles
  • Non-slip handles
  • Contra-angle handles (featuring one or more bends)
  • Flexible handles

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all option that works for everyone. As you consider which one to choose, think about the handle that will allow you to reach every surface of your teeth the easiest.

Bristle Pattern

You might have to try a few different types of toothbrushes to find the bristle pattern that works best for you. Some people might prefer wavy or crisscross bristles, while others feel the most comfortable using tapered bristles. You can even find bristles that feature special polishing cups!

Again, your dentist can advise you on which bristles will keep your teeth the cleanest based on your individual dental needs.

Electric Toothbrushes

For years, electric toothbrushes were considered an accessory that only the elite could afford or access. Now, however, they’re just as common as their manual counterparts, and more affordable.

With its type of toothbrush, the electric motor will rotate the bristles for you, allowing you to achieve an effective, all-over clean. If you find it hard to brush for the recommended two minutes per session, you can even find electric toothbrushes with built-in timers that alert you when it’s time to stop.

Within the electric toothbrush category, there are three different models to consider. These include:

  • Standard power toothbrushes (any type of electric toothbrush)
  • Sonic toothbrushes (high-powered brushes that hum)
  • Ultrasonic toothbrushes (fastest, most powerful option)

While these can be a little more expensive than manual brushes, they last longer because you can change out the heads once they become worn. This extends the life of your brush and helps you see a greater return on your investment.


Depending on your dental condition, your dentist might recommend that you try a sulcabrush. This is a special type of toothbrush that’s designed to clean right along your gumline.

Research shows that nearly 65 million American adults have periodontitis, which is the most advanced form of gum disease. If you suffer from this condition, then you may need the extra support that this brush provides.

In a sulcabrush, the bristles are formed into a pointed arrow design, which allows them to fit more closely against your gums. It’s also ideal for anyone who has had extensive dental work installed, such as a crown or bridge, and needs to clean around those intricate areas.

Interdental Toothbrushes

An interdental toothbrush isn’t meant to replace your standard brush. Rather, it’s designed to be used in conjunction with it! This type of toothbrush is usually small and disposable. The handle can either be attached or reusable, depending on the model.

You can use an interdental toothbrush to clean between your teeth. It’s also helpful for anyone who has braces, as the attached point can help you clean between the wires and your teeth. When you use this device alongside your ordinary toothbrush, you can help keep plaque and gingivitis at bay.

Eco-Friendly Toothbrushes

Want to keep your teeth clean and help the environment? If so, one of our top toothbrush buying tips is to look for an eco-friendly model!

In short, these brushes are designed to minimize your impact on the environment. They contain green or reusable materials that were created in ethical, gentle ways. A few components you might find include:

  • Green wooden handles
  • Bristles made from natural fibers, such as bamboo
  • Replaceable brush heads

This is a great example of a small change that can make a big difference. If you can’t find an eco-friendly toothbrush in the store, then feel free to hop online to discover more options. You can find plenty of hygiene supplies from reputable distributors, with a greater variety than you’ll find in person.

Discover These Different Types of Toothbrushes

Who knew that prioritizing your dental health could be this exciting? When you understand the differences between the different types of toothbrushes, you’re well on your way toward choosing the right one for your bathroom counter!

Regardless of the model you choose, the most important thing is to use it! Brushing and flossing twice a day is critical to maintaining your bright, healthy smile.

Looking for more lifestyle advice you can trust? We’ve got all of the tips you need, so check out the other articles on our site!