In theory, a toothbrush is a pretty simple thing — especially a manual one. In practice, however, there are tons of factors to consider when shopping for the best manual toothbrush. In order to find the ideal fit for you and your teeth, you'll want to consider the design of the bristles and the reviewer feedback.
Let's start with the bristles, as this is arguably the most important part of a manual toothbrush. Different brands use different designs in order to get the most thorough clean; for example, some may angle their bristles or use varying lengths and materials. However, the stiffness of the bristles is most likely to impact your day-to-day experience. While medium bristles are effective when it comes to removing plaque and food residue, the American Dental Association recommends softer bristles in order to prevent damage to gums and enamel.
That said, while brands' descriptions are helpful, reviewer feedback is invaluable. Since you can't exactly try out a toothbrush beforehand, check the ratings and reviews to see how past buyers feel about the texture and effectiveness. These six toothbrushes have a wide variety of bristle designs to meet all different dental needs, but they have one thing in common: Real customers have given them plenty of rave reviews.
1. The Overall Best Manual Toothbrush
If you're looking for quality, value, and a well-rounded clean, Oral-B Pro Health toothbrushes are the way to go. In fact, they have more than 4,500 reviews and a near-perfect rating of 4.8 stars overall. Using their angled, rounded bristles, they remove up to 99% of plaque on teeth and, when compared to a standard manual toothbrush, provide a 55% better clean along the gumline, according to the brand. Still, despite their effectiveness, the bristles are soft and gentle to avoid damage. Each brush also has a comfort grip and a built-in tongue and cheek cleaner on the back of the head.
One reviewer wrote: "What an absolute, instant improvement I felt when I switched to this toothbrush. These are great at removing plaque, leaving my teeth slick and smooth when I'm done. The bristles are firm, but soft enough that it doesn't hurt your gums while brushing."
2. The Best Value
Looking for value while still getting a deep clean? Oral-B delivers with the brand's Indicator toothbrushes, which (thanks to the under-$10 price tag for a pack of four) break down to just over a dollar each. The bristles aren't as advanced as other manual toothbrushes, but they still reach between teeth and along gums with their deep-cleaning tips and varying bristle lengths that have a wave-like pattern. They even have ergonomic comfort handles, and the bristles change color when it's time for a new one.
One reviewer wrote: "They are good toothbrushes at a good price. The bristles include a few rows of blue indicator bristles that become white when the brush needs replacing."
3. The Best Toothbrush For Whitening
Colgate's 360° Advanced Optic White toothbrush is specially designed with teeth-whitening in mind. It has several features in place to brighten your smile, including spiral-shaped polishing bristles (of various lengths and densities) to remove stains and a floss tip that reaches deep in between teeth. This brush also has a highly textured tongue cleaner, a soft, cushioned handle, and an ergonomic thumb pad for additional grip.
One reviewer wrote: "I use whitening strips occasionally but find that my teeth hurt after a while so I decided to scale back on that and just use a toothbrush that would help with whitening. I've been using this particular brand for a while so I know it is a product that truly works!"
4. The Best Extra-Soft Toothbrush For Sensitive Gums
Those with sensitive teeth or gums know that the average "soft" toothbrush isn't always soft enough to prevent discomfort. Luckily, these Nimbus toothbrushes are extra soft because they're made with micro-fine materials. Still, they're capable of cleaning hard-to-reach areas and removing plaque because they alternate between single-end tapered bristles and short end-rounded bristles. They're also tested by dentists and designed for comfort and deterioration-resistance.
One reviewer wrote: "Finally a truly soft toothbrush. I have Oral Lichen Planus (autoimmune disorder affecting mouth tissue). I have tried every ultra-soft and baby toothbrush out there and tossed them. This one is really truly different. I can finally brush my teeth without pain and scratching my gums."
5. The Most Eco-Friendly Toothbrush
Manual toothbrushes are cheap and effective — but they're also made from synthetic materials that typically end up in landfills. If you're concerned about the health of the environment, opt for these toothbrushes from Nuduko. They're eco-friendly and biodegradable because they're made from bamboo and come wrapped in cardboard. The nylon bristles are soft, BPA-free, and effective when it comes to removing plaque. Last but not least, they come in a value-friendly pack of 10 — half white and half black for identification purposes. However, the bristles are flat so you might not get the deepest clean possible.
One reviewer wrote: "These work just as well as any other toothbrush we've used so no complaints there. The real selling point on these [...] is that they are bamboo handled which makes them biodegradable and puts way less plastic back into the environment."
6. The Best Toothbrush For Braces
Finally, for those who need to clean around orthodontic equipment, you've got these toothbrushes from Y-Kelin. Unlike your standard brush, which frays and fails to reach around braces, these have a smaller head and special V-shaped bristles (angled at 45 degrees) that scrub without hooking or catching. Each order comes with four in different colors, plus tiny bristle brushes for removing trapped food.
One reviewer wrote: "Small head, which is good for me. Gets under the brackets better than standard tooth brush. The bristle brush is an added bonus! All at a great price!"