What Are The Different Types of Toothbrush?

What Are The Different Types of Toothbrush?

Brushing your teeth is essential for good oral hygiene, and choosing the right toothbrush (and toothpaste) plays an important role in this. However, with so many different toothbrushes to choose from, it can be difficult to know which one will give you the most effective clean for the healthiest teeth and gums. In this article, we explain the different types of toothbrushes, their features and who they are best suited for to help you choose the perfect toothbrush for optimal oral health and hygiene. 

1. Manual Toothbrush

When you picture a toothbrush in your head, this might be the first one that comes to mind. Traditional manual toothbrushes feature a plastic handle and nylon bristles, which come in various sizes and bristle arrangements depending on your needs. Manual toothbrushes tend to be more available, affordable and portable, but do require you to execute a proper brushing technique as there is no additional help from an oscillating head — which you would otherwise have with an electric toothbrush.

  • Bristle Type: Choose from soft, medium or hard bristles. Dentists tend to recommend soft-bristle toothbrushes as these are gentler on your tooth enamel and gums.
  • Bristle Design: Manual toothbrushes tend to have two main bristle designs: flat or multi-level bristles. Flat bristles are all the same length, and are less effective at cleaning the area between the teeth than multi-level bristles, which clean the surface and area in between the teeth.
  • Effectiveness: Proper brushing technique is crucial with manual toothbrushes.
  • Lifespan: A manual toothbrush should be changed every 3-4 months, or sooner if you have been unwell.

Bamboo Toothbrush

Bamboo toothbrushes are a sustainable alternative to a traditional manual toothbrushes. 
  • Eco-Friendly: Bamboo is plastic-free, fully compostable and biodegradable, and will return to the soil within 6 months. What's more,  bamboo is a fast-growing crop that does not require harmful pesticides or fertilisers due to the fact it can self-regenerate from its own roots, which makes it the perfect environmentally-friendly alternative to plastic. 
  • Antimicrobial: Bamboo is naturally antimicrobial, which can offer protection against harmful bacteria and mould. Some bamboo brushes also feature charcoal-infused bristles, which are known for their natural antibacterial properties.
  • Lifespan: Natural bamboo toothbrushes typically have a similar lifespan to plastic toothbrushes, which is around 3-4 months. 
  • Storage: Bamboo toothbrushes require proper storage to prevent mould. Rinse the bristles after use to remove food debris and excess toothpaste, and store your toothbrush upright in a container that has drainage holes. 

2. Electronic Toothbrush 

Electronic toothbrushes have a vibrating or rotating-oscillating head that moves in a circular motion, and provides a more consistent and thorough clean than manual toothbrushes.
  • Brush Head Type: For individuals with specific dental concerns, such as braces or sensitive teeth, electronic toothbrushes often offer specialised brush heads and modes to accommodate for their needs.
  • Timer: Electronic toothbrushes often have built-in timers to ensure users brush for the recommended two minutes. Some even have reminders to move around your mouth, for a more even and effective clean.
  • Pressure Sensors: Electronic toothbrushes sometimes have pressure sensors which alert users if they are applying too much force. This helps to prevent aggressive brushing that can lead to gum recession and enamel erosion.

3. Sonic or Ultrasonic Toothbrush 

Sonic toothbrushes use high-frequency vibrations to move bristles side-to-side at high speeds; sonic toothbrushes on the market offer frequencies up to and over 50,000 movements per minute.

Ultrasonic toothbrushes are the same, but operate at an even higher frequency than sonic toothbrushes for an even more advanced clean. They use working frequencies from 20 kHz up to 10 MHz, which equates to 1.2 million movements per minute. 

  • Advanced Clean: Dentists may recommend ultrasonic brushes for patients with specific oral health concerns, such as advanced tooth wear, due to their advanced cleaning capabilities.
  • Scientific Studies: Research has shown that sonic toothbrushes are better than electronic toothbrushes at reducing gingival inflammation and probing depth.

4. Interdental Toothbrush 

An interdental brush has small, thin brushes that are designed to clean the spaces between teeth and along the gumline. Interdental brushes can also clean between braces, and even reach under dental bridges and prosthetic units.

  • Brush Size: Interdental brushes are available in varying sizes and thickness, depending on your unique needs.
  • Effectiveness: Interdental brushes remove plaque and food debris from spaces where toothbrushes cannot reach.
  • Orthodontics: People with braces, bridges, or other orthodontic appliances often use interdental brushes to get in the additional crevices where plaque can accumulate, such as under wires or beneath the pontics of bridges.

6. End Tuft Toothbrush

An end tuft toothbrush has an extra small head with a unique arrangement of bristles at its tip. Unlike a manual toothbrush, a tuft brush is designed to clean hard-to-reach parts of your mouth, such as the back molars, behind orthodontic appliances, or around dental prosthetics.

  • Stiff Bristles: The small and stiff bristles are ideal for individuals with braces, implants, crowns, or other dental work that requires a meticulous clean in hard-to-reach areas.
  • Additional Tool: An end tuft toothbrush should never replace a manual or electric toothbrush. Instead, it is a valuable addition to a wider selection of dental tools, in particular for those with certain dental work, conditions or challenges. 


Need additional help? Read our full guide on How to Choose the Right Toothbrush, and find out what toothpaste is right for you here.


Brush Fresh is founded and run by a group of UK-based dentists, who specialise in environmentally-friendly and sustainable dental products. From biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes to zero waste toothbrush tablets, our product range has been designed to put both your dental health and the environment first. For more information and dental care advice, head over to our blog page or get in contact with us here.

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