Buying a toothbrush should not be complicated, but if the brand or type you are used to using has been discontinued, you need to sort through an array of choices as you look for another set of toothbrushes to buy. And it seems that toothbrush manufacturers will never stop adding features and changing designs. Some of these features are actually necessary or extremely helpful, while others are only as helpful as your brushing technique is good. Knowing which features are the ones you absolutely should get narrows down the giant pool of options.
Soft Bristles Are Necessary
First, you do need soft bristles. Extra-soft bristles are fine, too, although most brands stop at "soft." These bristles sweep across your teeth and gums without scraping at them, which can scratch enamel and gum tissue. Medium and hard bristles can be too damaging and irritating, so avoid buying those. Even if you think you prefer medium bristles, for example, your teeth and gums will be in better shape if you switch to soft.
An Angled Head Is Helpful
An angled toothbrush head can be helpful for reaching back molars. Getting all the way behind those to brush can be difficult, and an angled head makes it a little easier to angle the brush so that the bristles reach those back teeth and their very back ends. You can still reach those teeth with brushes with non-angled heads, but it requires more contortion. Angled heads are a very good feature to have because they make brushing easier.
Fading Bristle Color Can Be Helpful but Isn't Always
A number of brands have brushes with the middle sets of bristles a different colour than the rest. For example, most of the bristles may be white while the center row is blue. The colour fades as the brush wears out, and you're supposed to replace the toothbrush when you see the fading occur. This can be helpful as many people lose track of how long they've been using the same toothbrush. But it isn't always helpful as someone could end up with a brush where the dye is particularly stubborn, or they could brush so intensely that the brush needs to be replaced before the bristle colour fades. Whether you get this feature or not is up to you.
Raised Bristles Really Depend on Brushing Technique
Toothbrushes have bristle patterns where some rows of bristles are raised or cut at an angle. This is different from having an angled head. Supposedly, this helps you reach more of the tooth surface, from the portion that's visible to the parts that are right next to the gaps between teeth. Whether those work really depends on your brushing technique.
You can always contact your dentist to ask more questions about which toothbrush features you really need. And remember you need to floss, too, so speak with the dentist about recommended features for that as well.
For more information, contact a dentist near you.