You use it every day, but when was the last time you put real thought into your toothbrush? An effective tool is essential for a proper brushing, which not only shines up your pearly whites, but also prevents bacteria and inflammation -- both of which are linked to everything from heart disease to dementia. We asked the experts for a brushup on what features matter most.
Should you opt for an electric brush with a round, rotating head or a traditional rectangular manual brush? Many dentists believe they're both effective if you're using the right technique.
There's no one-size-fits-all toothbrush, but keep in mind that big brushes can miss plaque buildup in tight spots between teeth and hard-to-reach areas in the back.
Bristle Always opt for soft or extra soft. "Many people mistakenly believe that hard-bristle brushes do a more thorough job, but the opposite is true. A 2011 study in the Journal of Periodontology found that people who brushed with stiffer bristles experienced an 11 percent increase in gum bleeding after eight weeks.
Unless you find them easier to hold, fancy padded grips that appear to be ergonomically designed have no effect on how well you brush.
Is it Time to Change Your Toothbrush?
If it's been more than four months, yes.
According to the American Dental Association, more than 40 percent of Americans don't know how often to change their toothbrushes.