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How to pick a manual toothbrush, according to the ADA

These manual toothbrushes can be as effective as electric toothbrushes — if used correctly.
We rounded up these ADA accepted manual toothbrushes for adults and children.
We rounded up these ADA accepted manual toothbrushes for adults and children.Blue Images / Getty Images / Made by Radius

Dental hygiene is important to Select readers — our guide to electric toothbrushes has grown increasingly popular since its publication. In general, online search trends for toothbrushes have also grown substantially in recent months. And a majority of Americans — 264.98 million in 2020 — use manual toothbrushes to brush their teeth, according to Statista, which relied on data from the U.S. Census and Simmons National Consumer Survey.

If you’re looking for a toothbrush, you may be looking at a sea of options across electric and manual types. Here’s some good news to simplify the search: The American Dental Association (ADA) says both manual and electric toothbrushes can be effective as long as you use them correctly. If you’re opting for a manual toothbrush, we looked into both what features you should be looking for as well as some of the best options available right now, based on the ADA’s guidance.

Best manual toothbrushes

According to the ADA, the structure of the toothbrush and softness of the bristles are significant to choosing the best toothbrush for you.

Multi-leveled or angled bristles remove plaque better than flat-cut bristles

Soft bristles are still preferable to medium bristles — medium bristles can remove biofilm but they may contribute to gingival abrasion

In addition, the ADA gives certain toothbrushes the Seal of Acceptance, which requires that manufacturers present scientific evidence to the ADA regarding its products’ safety and efficacy. The ADA Council on Scientific Affairs then reviews that evidence to ensure it meets the organization’s standards before handing that product its seal. Below, we gathered soft-bristled manual toothbrushes with notable design features — like varied bristles or an angled head — that have earned the ADA Seal of Acceptance and are available across major retailers.

Bao Tea All-In-One Toothbrush and Tongue Cleaner

This toothbrush is two-sided: One end has the “ultra-soft” bristles while the other end has a four-tiered tongue cleaner, which the company says helps to “attack bad breath and odor-causing bacteria at the source” by scraping away tongue debris.

Radius Kids Toothbrushes

Radius sells multiple toothbrushes for kids that are ADA-accepted. The Totz Plus toothbrush is meant for children ages 3 and up — it has a non-slip grip on the handle and a “cornerless” oval brush head, which the company says makes it suitable for kids with sensitive mouths. Their Kidz Brush, that’s made for children 6 and older, has an irregular, ergonomic handle shape and an extra-large brush head.

Radius Flex Toothbrush

This adult toothbrush has an ergonomic handle similar to the Kidz Brush and adults can choose between the left- and right-handed version. The neck is made from rubber, which, according to the company, is flexible to allow the brush to hit hard-to-reach places.

Curvex Toothbrush

This brush has a unique shape: The head is convex and curves the brush away from the palate, which the company says can help the brush hit your back molars and reduce gagging. The bristles vary in length, with the longest ones in the middle and shortest at the top and bottom, which the company says helps the bristles stay in contact with your teeth.

Improve Toothbrush

This toothbrush’s bristles are in the shape of a V, longer on the outer edges and shorter in the middle, creating a gap for your teeth to fit in — the company says that positioning the brush this way helps the bristles keep a 45-degree angle toward the gumline at all times.

Radius Forever Brush Toothbrushes

The Forever Brush line of ADA-accepted adult toothbrushes from Radius is notable for its large, replaceable brush heads.

The Big Brush has a similar handle to the Flex Brush, with an ergonomic shape and a choice of left- and right-handed handles.

The Tour Travel Brush is foldable — the handle doubles as a case for the head.

The Source Brush has a reversible handle — so it works for both left- and right-handed people — that’s made from upcycled hemp.

How to brush your teeth

Whether you choose a manual or electric toothbrush, the ADA recommends some specific brushing techniques, in addition to using toothpaste and flossing.

Use a toothbrush with soft bristles

Brush for two minutes, twice a day

Angle the toothbrush 45 degrees relative to the gumline

Replace the toothbrush when bristles are frayed or after 3 to 4 months, whichever comes sooner

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