If you’ve stood in the toothpaste aisle recently searching for a new toothbrush, you know that there are so many styles, brands, and bristle densities that it’s tough to choose just one. In fact, you may have even thrown up your hands in surrender and grabbed one just to get out of that dang toothpaste aisle! So just how many different kinds of toothbrushes are there? If you’re the person looking to purchase a new one, it may seem like there are thousands, but the truth is that there are just a few different types of toothbrushes from which all styles on the market have emerged. Following is information from family dentists about the various types of toothbrushes available and how to choose the one that’s best for you.
History of the toothbrush
Just be glad you didn’t live during ancient times. How would you like to use porcupine quills to brush your teeth? Or how about animal bones or twigs with frayed edges? Doesn’t exactly sound like an ideal addition to your oral hygiene routine, does it? These are some of the items folks in ancient Babylon used to keep their teeth clean circa 3500 BC. Some ancients even used bird feathers to clean in between their teeth. And, believe it or not, some even used urine in their oral hygiene routines in order to ward off bad breath! Thank goodness for toothbrushes!
Not surprisingly, the oldest type of modern toothbrush is the manual toothbrush. The funny thing about it is that most people still use this kind. Stores are loaded with all shapes, sizes, and colors of manual toothbrushes because they’re cheap and easy to use. The manual toothbrush has a hard handle with bristles at one end that come in varying degrees of softness, from soft, to medium, to firm, and extra firm. Some even contain a tongue scraper, which gives a little added boost when cleaning away bacteria.
Next came battery-powered, often also referred to as ‘electric’ toothbrushes. The battery-powered toothbrush typically uses two AA batteries. It has a large-handled base and bristles that move via electricity. Some battery-powered toothbrushes have bristles that spin, while others have bristles that move back and forth. Some even have two types of bristles, lower bristles that remain stationary and upper bristles that spin in a circular motion. The idea for an electric toothbrush is to mimic the gentle electrical instruments your family dentist uses to clean your teeth. Battery-powered toothbrushes are more expensive than manual ones, but many folks swear by their cleaning power.
There are toothbrushes made especially for children, including toothbrushes made especially for babies. These are a great idea for new parents who aren’t exactly sure how to clean their baby’s gums or growing teeth. Most toothbrushes made for children are manual, but the toothbrush market also has plenty of battery-powered ones that may make brushing more fun for kids. The manual toothbrushes that are made especially for children are often created to look like movie or TV characters, and some even have music that plays as your child brushes or timers that tell them to keep at it.
Chewable toothbrushes are especially convenient for those who want to brush on the go. Naturally, it’s not always easy to stop into a wash room and brush after eating. This can cause bacteria to build up and lead to cavities and other tooth decay. That’s why chewable toothbrushes are great for busy folks. A chewable toothbrush is a small piece of plastic that has bristles at one end that’s made to simply pop into your mouth, chew, and spit back out. It’s important to note, though, that chewable toothbrushes aren’t to be swallowed. This is why they’re not generally recommended for use by children.
Whether you grab 4-for-a-buck down at the local dollar store, or you fork over a cool Ben Franklin for a fancy electric one, the fact about toothbrushes is that it’s the brushing that’s the thing. Though there really are only a few different types, toothbrushes come in literally thousands, perhaps even millions, of different shapes, sizes, colors, and costs. And the variety of the brands, bristles, and breeds ads about another million to the list. So what’s the best type of toothbrush? The one that you’ll use to brush your teeth at least twice a day.