Best Manual Toothbrush

Updated: Nov 20, 2023 10:57 AM
best manual toothbrush featured image that shows the top three best bathroom essential models

After careful consideration, we strongly believe that the Dental Expert Charcoal toothbrush is the best manual toothbrush you can purchase today. This dentist-tested toothbrush comes with ultra-fine charcoal bristles, helping it to achieve 99% plaque reduction in just four weeks of use. It is a no-brainer that a good toothbrush is an important element of your bathroom essentials.

To help you find the best manual toothbrush we’ve collected specs, compared consumer reviews and researched the most popular choices. We looked for bristle count, flexibility, reach and ergonomics. We also considered purpose-built manual toothbrushes, seeking the best manual toothbrush for braces and the most eco-friendly toothbrush. Since many choose manual over electric toothbrushes for reasons of gum sensitivity or due to having braces, we made sure to note the top rated soft and extra soft manual toothbrushes. Cost and convenience for travel also factor in when considering the best manual toothbrush, so we looked for cost-effective options to round out our list. Keep reading to learn more about the Oral-B CrossAction and the other models on our list.

Top 7 Best Manual Toothbrushes

 #1  Dental Expert 5 Pack Charcoal Toothbrush


WHY WE LIKE IT: This soft manual toothbrush was designed with input from top dentists, and it benefits from ultra-porous charcoal’s unique ability to absorb dirt and plaque without irritating gums.

  • Safe for inflamed gums
  • Angled, ultra-fine bristles
  • Removes stains more easily than plastic-bristle toothbrushes
  • Not the cheapest toothbrush option
  • Some may find the charcoal brush’s appearance unsettling

This charcoal toothbrush is the most effective manual toothbrush we’ve seen when it comes to removing plaque and stains. It requires less vigorous motion to get the job done than with plastic-bristle toothbrushes, since the activated charcoal bristles have more cleaning power and can more actively absorb dirt, bacteria and residue.

Packaged in a convenient 5 pack, this product allows for the whole family to try out the benefits of charcoal toothbrushes. Each toothbrush in the pack is a different color, so you know whose is whose. The ultra-fine bristles make it among the least irritating and best ultra-soft manual toothbrush options on the market, and the handle is well-designed and comfortable as well. You might also want the best toothpaste with these toothbrushes.

 #2  Oral-B CrossAction All In One Manual Toothbrush


WHY WE LIKE IT: This soft manual toothbrush is the top performer on our list when it comes to reach and cleaning efficiency, boasting a 99-percent plaque removal rating and carrying 550 CrossAction bristles for gentle lifting and cleaning, even in hard to reach areas.

  • Removes up to 99% plaque removal
  • Highest bristle count on our list
  • Color changing wear indicator
  • No travel case included
  • Large size can hinder control

This is among the most advanced and well designed manual toothbrushes on the market, and our pick for the best soft manual toothbrush if you’re looking to replace as much of the cleaning power of an electric toothbrush as possible. The heads pack in 550 bristles each, a higher count than the other toothbrushes on our list, and the angled, extra long outer bristles serve to gently lift and scrub away plaque and residue, leaving teeth noticeably whiter.

There’s also a tongue and cheek cleaner feature, which helps remove unwanted germs and bacterial biofilms, helping to ensure fresh breath and promoting overall dental health. The bristles are soft enough that they won’t cause gum irritation for most people, and there is a color-changing wear indicator that tells you when it’s time to switch. This 4-pack is also a good value, giving you theoretically a year’s worth of toothbrushes. If you prefer electric, check out the best electric toothbrush instead.

 #3  Colgate Extra Clean Full Head Manual Toothbrush


WHY WE LIKE IT: Circular pattern bristles help remove stains, giving this manual toothbrush extra brightening ability, and its elongated end bristles reach behind molars especially well.

  • Elongated tip bristles for added reach
  • Circular center section for stain removal
  • Ergonomic, comfortable handle
  • Fewer bristles than the Oral B
  • Lacks wear indicators

A simple yet comfortable and highly effective toothbrush, the Colgate Extra Clean manual toothbrush is inexpensive enough to pack extra for travel, and its circular bristle pattern adds a stain removing boost. Thanks to its thick, easy to hold handle, this is one of the most ergonomic and maneuverable manual toothbrushes you can buy.

It doesn’t have as many bristles as the Oral B manual toothbrush, but the bristle pattern of the Colgate and the comfortable design of its handle makes this a good choice for those looking for the best manual toothbrush for braces. The elongated end bristles help get spaces between teeth and allow for cleaning rear molars especially well. With the best toothbrush, you’ll need the best toothbrush holder.

 #4  Tom’s of Maine Whole Care Manual Toothbrush


WHY WE LIKE IT: Made from 80 percent post-consumer materials and has eco-friendly and health conscious BPA-free bristles as well as a sustainable recycled plastic construction. It also has very effectively angled bristles for removing plaque.

  • BPA-free bristles
  • Made from 80 percent recycled materials
  • Plaque removing angled bristles
  • Fewer bristles than the Oral B
  • Lacks the Colgate’s circular pattern with braces-friendly gaps

Not only is the Tom’s of Maine Whole Care toothbrush one of the best performing manual toothbrushes for plaque removal, but it’s also eco-friendly and has certified BPA-free bristles, ensuring your toothbrush isn’t exposing you to this potentially teratogenic compound. These toothbrushes are made of a minimum 80% post-consumer material and are themselves recyclable using Terracycle.

In addition to making products with verified eco-friendly features, Tom’s of Maine donates 10% of their profits to children’s health, education, and other charities. The toothbrush itself is a top choice for its performance and softness, too. The bristles are flexible, non-irritating, and good for sensitive gums. They do a good job of lifting out plaque and may irritate the gums less than the longer bristles of the Oral B CrossAction manual toothbrush. If you’re looking to upgrade your bathroom, take a look at one of the best bathroom sinks too.

 #5  Amazon Brand Clean Plus Manual Toothbrushes


WHY WE LIKE IT: Designed for comfort, reach and maneuverability, these simple and very affordable toothbrushes are a great value. Staggered bristles and an integrated tongue and cheek cleaner add to their cleaning power and help boost dental and oral health.

  • Angled end bristles for reaching behind molars
  • Easy grip handles
  • Sold in generous 10-pack
  • Bristles not as fine as with the Oral B
  • Larger head impedes motion relative to the Colgate manual toothbrush

A basic manual toothbrush that comes in an excellent-priced 10 pack, this toothbrush pack from Amazon is great for travel and to keep as a backup so you can avoid having to use an accidentally soiled toothbrush. Each toothbrush in the pack is a different color, too, so you know which ones you’ve used. This also makes them convenient for couples and family use.

The bristles are well-designed for scrubbing molars and cleaning front teeth but fall short when it comes to reaching in between teeth for removing harder-to-reach plaque. Still, the value for the money with these manual toothbrushes is hard to beat, making this the best manual travel toothbrush.

 #6  TEPE Supreme Soft Manual Toothbrush


WHY WE LIKE IT: This dentist-recommended ultra-soft toothbrush gets rid of plaque without irritating sensitive gums, thanks to ultra-soft, angled and multi-height filaments.

  • Flexible neck for excellent reach
  • Bi-level bristles simultaneously clean gum line and tooth crowns
  • Softest manual toothbrush on our list
  • Relatively expensive
  • Fewer bristles overall than the Oral B

Benefiting from a great design that incorporates a flexible angled neck for molar reach, this extra soft manual toothbrush is the best manual toothbrush for sensitive gums we’ve researched. It features bi-level bristles that allow it to clean and whiten enamel vigorously while also gently lifting and removing plaque from the gum line and in between teeth.

With the extra flexibility of the neck, this TEPE manual toothbrush has the best reach of any we’ve researched, making it a great choice for those who have retained wisdom teeth. The head itself is smaller than that of the Tom’s or Colgate brushes, helping it maneuver well even around braces. Also helpful is the very comfortable thick handle, which features a non-slip thumb-pad for dexterity. While you’re grabbing a new toothbrush, grab some of the best kids toothpaste too. In case you are also looking for a great product that can simplify how you wash your kids, read our guide on the best handheld shower heads.

 #7  Reach Crystal Clean Firm Adult Toothbrush


WHY WE LIKE IT: This Reach manual toothbrush is well priced and has a few innovative features to its credit, such as an angled handle that lets it rest cleanly on the countertop without getting bristles dirty.

  • Angled handle keeps bristles off countertops
  • Comfortable ergonomic handle
  • Bi-level bristles to clean teeth and gum line at the same time
  • Likely too firm for those with sensitive teeth or gum disease
  • Coarser bristles than the Oral B

For those seeking a firm bristled manual toothbrush, this Reach Crystal Clean is one of the best value choices on the market. A narrow, extended set of tip bristles and a well-angled neck give it good reach and the ability to clean between teeth and around the wires of braces. Some of those who wear braces may actually prefer a firmer bristled manual toothbrush since firm bristles are less likely to be deflected by wires and braces.

This toothbrush also benefits from an innovative handle designed to act as a stand, keeping bristles off the countertop and letting you store your toothbrush more hygienically. While it may not be the best soft manual toothbrush, it’s a solid alternative for those who prefer coarse bristles and those with braces. If you also want to learn about great shaving soap options, read our best shaving soap guide.

How We Decided

To narrow down the choices and bring you a concise list of the best manual toothbrushes you can buy, we only included those with proven plaque removal ability, good reach and well-designed ergonomics. To research long term durability of the best manual toothbrushes, Reddit reviews and Consumer Reports were taken into consideration, and we also considered dentist recommendations.

We only picked toothbrushes that had at least 100 bristles per head, and we looked for innovative features like multi-level or multi-angle bristles. An extended tip for reaching back teeth was considered a bonus.

We included soft and ultra-soft manual toothbrush options, and also considered firmer brushes, since some prefer a firm manual toothbrush. For soft and ultra-soft toothbrushes, we required that they be designed for gentle plaque removal and to minimize irritation for sensitive gums. Among firm toothbrushes, we looked in particular for great maneuverability and an angled neck to help clean around braces.

Best Manual Toothbrush Buyer’s Guide

Features to Consider

  1. Bristle Count
    In general, the higher the bristle count, the more thoroughly a toothbrush will clean enamel. Bristles can also be rounded at the ends to protect tooth enamel while cleaning. Moreover, always start with a clean toothbrush, especially if your current brush is old. It’s important to change your toothbrush head every 3-4 months. Moreover, you’ll want to use a good countertop cleaning solution to ensure no bacteria builds on your toothbrush.
    • A trade-off is maneuverability and between-teeth reach, however. While electric toothbrushes offer powerful cleaning, many prefer the precision of a manual brush. Using a soft bristle toothbrush lets you better navigate hard-to-reach spots and clean along the gumline, improving gum health.
    • Gently brushing in a circular motion at a 45-degree angle effectively lifts away plaque while stimulating gums. The key is not to over-brush, as too much pressure can erode enamel over time.
    • Whether you opt for an electric or manual brush, choose soft bristles and focus on a controlled, thorough technique for the healthiest teeth and gums.
    • Smaller brush head sizes allow you to maneuver the brush more precisely for a gentle yet effective clean. Types of toothbrushes like compact heads and soft bristles are ideal for avoiding gum damage while still removing plaque.
    • Moving the brush in gentle circles and taking time to clean each surface prevents you from being too harsh on teeth and gums. A controlled, deliberate brushing method paired with a soft-bristled brush maintains healthy teeth without inflaming gums or eroding enamel over time.
    • Focusing on technique and choosing the right bristle stiffness and brush size will keep your mouth feeling fresh and your gums and teeth in optimal health.
    • For between-teeth cleaning, medium bristles and soft bristles work better. Nylon bristles are a good compromise, providing just enough strength for plaque removal without damaging the gums.
    • Those looking for a whitening toothbrush will want the highest bristle count, and for plaque removal, a high bristle count plus multi-angle filaments is best, such as with the Oral B (our top pick).
  2. Material
    While it goes without saying that the best toothbrush should be made from gum-safe, non-toxic materials, also consider sustainability.
    • Choose an electric option made from recyclable plastic or a quality bamboo manual brush for an eco-friendly option. Bamboo is naturally antimicrobial and biodegradable. Plus, it’ll make disposal easy, just like a toilet for an RV.
    • Soft bristles are gentle on enamel while still lifting away plaque. Rounded tips further protect teeth and gums during cleaning. With the right eco-friendly materials and soft bristle design, you can keep your teeth healthy and do your part for the planet at the same time.
  3. Handle
    The best manual toothbrush should have a handle that feels comfortable to hold at your preferred grip, and that allows you enough dexterity to brush front and back and to reach molars and wisdom teeth. Non-slip grips and a comfortable grip make it easier to brush your teeth thoroughly.
    • A metal handle or a bamboo handle can be effective, although bamboo is often preferred for its sustainability. Ultimately, a toothbrush with a handle that feels comfortable to you ensures better-brushing performance, which leads to healthier teeth.
    • Plus, if you brush your teeth in the shower, you’ll want to also get a sturdy shower chair to use.
  4. Gum and Cheek Cleaner
    Some manual toothbrushes feature gum and cheek cleaners, usually mounted on the head opposite the bristles.
    • This extra feature helps keep your entire mouth healthy and clean. But just brushing alone isn’t enough. To achieve total oral hygiene, you must pay attention to other parts of your mouth, like your tongue. Many manual toothbrushes come with textured tongue scrapers on the back side that removes bacteria and plaque buildup, which can cause bad breath.
    • These help clear away excess bacterial biofilms that may adhere to the tongue and cheeks and thus promote a healthier oral microbiome.
    • In fact, with a unique brush design and additional dental products that make cleaning hard-to-reach places easier, you can maintain healthier gums and teeth.
  5. Firmness
    How soft or firm you want a manual toothbrush will depend on your personal considerations; in general, a firm toothbrush is good for cleaning between teeth and for scrubbing stains off of enamel.
    • But if you’re prone to tooth abrasion or have tooth sensitivity, especially when brushing, you should opt for one of the gentler brushing modes that may be available. Softer bristles designed with multi-level bristles in mind can make your brushing technique easier on your gums.
    • However, many people choose a manual toothbrush over an electric one in order to have a softer brushing experience.
    • In this case, it’s best to invest in a soft-bristled toothbrush and replace the head of your brush every three months for optimal dental hygiene. Some standard toothbrushes come with replacement heads, so you don’t need to buy a new one each time.
    • If this is the case, consider an ultra-soft manual toothbrush like the TEPE (our #5 pick).
    • A visit with your dental professional will help you find the right toothbrush for you. Gingival abrasion caused by brushing with the wrong bristles can lead to bacteria growth and, if unchecked, periodontal disease. It’s important to check with your dental professional to avoid such dental issues.
    • Moreover, consider your age, lifestyle, and other factors to determine the best type of toothbrush to prevent tooth decay. Regular toothbrushes can help reduce plaque and tartar buildup at an affordable price. On the other hand, electric brush models provide a more thorough cleaning at a higher price range.
Ryan Mcbride Avatar

Learn More About Electric Toothbrush

Electric Toothbrush Reviews