Characteristics of A Good Toothbrush

By Christina Stewart RDH 

Tina Dooley RDH

May 12, 2020

According to the ADA, a good toothbrush is one that is safe and efficacious for the removal of plaque and the reduction of gingivitis.


When selecting a toothbrush consider the parts of the toothbrush and what you would like to achieve out of its use along with your level of comfort.



Characteristics of a Good Toothbrush



Should not fall out with normal use.

Standard toothbrushes have between 5000 and 1000 bristles in head.  The main types of bristles are soft bristles, extra soft, medium and hard(not recommended).


Bristles are arranged in the head of the toothbrush in various ways , Multi-level, Angled,  Dome bristles, Rippled bristles or Flat bristles. 


Bristles should be flexible to curve around the teeth and gum to get into crevices, helping to preserve tooth enamel and gum tissue.


Soft bristles can massage the gum to increase blood circulation promoting gingival health while gently removing plaque and harmful bacteria from the teeth without irritation and discomfort.


Multi-level or Angled bristles are considered to be more effective at removing dental plaque bio-film from the surfaces of the teeth than flat-trimmed bristles.

Nylon bristles can be economical, hygienic and durable. Nylon bristles can  help to reduce stress on the teeth. 


Hard bristles  are more likely to destroy enamel and gum. The use of a toothbrush with hard bristles over time may cause  gum recession  and toothbrush abrasion, resulting in sensitive teeth, sometimes cavities or exposed nerve chambers. Hard bristles are not recommended. 




Handles should be  firm , stay in place, comfortable and easy to hold.

The area of the handle closet to the head of the toothbrush should be firm.

Too much flexibility may result in the use of increased force or pressure to brush the teeth causing abrasion on some teeth and increased plaque accumulation on others.

The handle of the toothbrush can be modified for better comfort and easy grasp or grip if the manual dexterity is compromised.




The Size  of the toothbrush should not be too big or too small.  The toothbrush must fit the mouth comfortably to clean the teeth including  all the hard to reach areas.


If the head of the toothbrush  is too big it will be difficult to reach the back of the mouth in order to clean the sides of the teeth and behind  the molars. A small compact head makes it easier to reach the molars.




The shape of head of the toothbrush may be tapered, rectangular, diamond shaped, oval or round.


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