Gentle, gentler: A guide to manual toothbrush recommendations

As much as we may love electric toothbrushes, they won't work for every patient, every time—whether due to cost, comfort, or another reason entirely. That's why Colleen Olson, RDH, BBA, put together this guide to manual toothbrush recommendations. Here, you can find something to give your patients clean mouths and comfort.

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As much as we may love electric toothbrushes, they won't work for every patient, every time—whether due to cost, comfort, or another reason entirely. That's why Colleen Olson, RDH, BBA, put together this guide to manual toothbrush recommendations. Here, you can find something to give your patients clean mouths and comfort.

If I had a magical dental hygiene wand, I’d wave it and all my patients would have electric power toothbrushes sitting on their bathroom counters. With another flick of my wrist, all my patients would have the skill and motivation to use their brushes properly and consistently. But since we live in the real world, this is not a reality. Many patients don’t want to purchase one because they feel electric toothbrushes are expensive, unnecessary, or perhaps uncomfortable to use. Whatever the reason, many of our patients will continue using manual toothbrushes.

I personally use a manual toothbrush most of the time due to areas of residual paresthesia and other sensory issues following double-jaw surgery (bilateral sagittal split osteotomy [BSSO] and LeFort I osteotomy). Even on the most sensitive setting, my electric toothbrush sometimes zings me with some uncomfortable sensations, so I prefer an ultrasoft manual toothbrush.

Patients who might prefer very gentle manual brushes include those with generalized recession and dentin hypersensitivity, radiation patients, those with frequent ulcers or mucositis, and patients who have recently undergone oral surgery. In alphabetical order, here are some of my favorite manual toothbrushes to recommend and the reasons why.


Colgate SlimSoft Ultra Soft

Where patients can get it: Dental offices, or under the name Colgate Floss-Tip Bristles at CVS, Walmart, or Amazon

Special features: Slim, tapered bristles

My thoughts: I love this toothbrush because the bristles taper at the tip, and they sweep under your gums for a squeaky clean feeling. The bristles are gentle and smooth. This is the brush we give out in our office goodie bags, and I’ve had several patients ask for an extra brush at their prophylaxis visits because they love them.


Curaprox CS5460

Where patients can get it:Curaprox's website, Amazon, and other online retailers

Special features: Outrageously soft bristles, good for tongue brushing

My thoughts: This is definitely one of the softest brushes I’ve ever used. The bristles are incredibly fine (0.1 mm) and densely packed in the brush head. I love that all the bristles are the same height because it makes for excellent tongue brushing. The brush head itself is small, which makes it easy to maneuver in the posterior. I found this brush about a year after jaw surgery, and it has been my favorite to use since then because of how gently the bristles clean my teeth.


Sunstar Gum Post Surgical

Where patients can get it: Sunstar Gum's website, Amazon, and online retailers

Special features: Ridiculously soft bristles

My thoughts: My surgery was a year and a half ago, but I still enjoy using this brush. Like the Curaprox CS5460, the super soft bristles on this brush are all the same height. The bristles aren’t as densely packed, but they get the job done effectively, and this brush is significantly more affordable than the CS5460.


Sunstar Gum Technique Deep Clean

Where patients can get it:Sunstar Gum's website, grocery stores, and drugstores

Special features: Purchasable in stores, tapered bristles, thick handle with thumb grip

My thoughts: The fact that you can buy this brush in stores is a big plus. Not everyone is interested in using Amazon Prime to buy everything, including toothbrushes. This brush compares to the Colgate Slim Soft Ultra Soft but has a thicker handle. The handle is wide with cushioned thumb grips for a nice feel.


TePe Supreme

Where patients can get it:TePe's website and Amazon

Special features: Tapered bristles, thick handle with thumb grip

My thoughts: I know TePe makes amazing interdental brushes so why wouldn’t they make a great toothbrush too? The bristles of this brush are soft and have varying heights. The bristles taper at the tip like those on the Slim Soft and Technique Deep Clean brushes, and they give your gums a gentle but thorough cleaning.


Editor's note: Do you have a question for Colleen? Is there a product you'd like to see her review? Or would you like to submit your own hygiene product article? Send an e-mail to pearlmail@pennwell.com. You might just see it in the Hygiene Product Navigator! If you're not a Product Navigator subscriber, click here to sign up.


Colleen Olson, RDH, BBA, is an editorial director for the e-newsletter, Pearls for Your Practice: The Product Navigator. She earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Texas A&M University in 2008 and worked in sales for five years. She graduated from the Blinn College Dental Hygiene program in 2013. She is a full-time mom to Bonnie Grace and is currently a part-time hygienist in private practice in San Antonio, Texas. She enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband, Zach, and their families.


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