Overall, oral health and personal grooming among older adults can be a tad challenging. Nonetheless, it remains an important part of living a fulfilling and healthy life. Maintaining great standards of oral health is important to ensure seniors avoid toothaches, the dreaded tooth loss, and other oral health issues. Great oral hygiene also enhances food enjoyment, chewing, and the overall eating experience.
The first thing you need to ensure your mouth stays clean is to invest in a toothbrush that meets your unique needs as an elderly. A quality manual toothbrush will go a long way in keeping your oral hygiene up to scratch. However, it’s important to note that not all toothbrushes can meet the needs of the elderly. In fact, a wrong manual toothbrush can wreak havoc to your gums, enamel, and much more.
As a senior, choose your toothbrushes carefully!
Why Might Seniors Need a Special Toothbrush?
As we get older, our physical and mental capabilities start to decline. While we may shrug this off as a part of normal aging, it is important to be aware of these things when making decisions about our oral hygiene and health.
For instance, as people age, their gums start to recede, causing the teeth to get more sensitive. Dentists have found that a soft toothbrush can be better than a hard one to avoid irritating the gums.
An older person’s hand-eye coordination coupled with poor eyesight might make it harder for them to clean their teeth. As such, seniors need a toothbrush that’s easy to grip and control.
Additionally, seniors need specialty brushes different from normal toothbrushes, depending on the person’s specific needs. For example, if you have dentures instead of teeth, you will obviously need a brush that works with your dentures. In addition, if you have missing teeth, you may need a differently shaped head than what is normally provided on a regular toothbrush.
Finally, older adults need special toothbrushes that conform to their mouth’s contours. Toothbrush designs often include an angled head, special shape, soft bristles, and a longer handle. These toothbrushes are usually made of rubber, plastic, nylon, and bristle. They are specially designed for people who have dentures or bridges.
What Features Are Important for Toothbrushes For Seniors & Elderly?
Here are the important features of manual toothbrushes you should consider when buying one for an older adult.
Accounting for deteriorating hand-eye coordination and a diminishing range of motion that many seniors experiences, their toothbrushes should be ergonomic to handle and use. Toothbrushes designed for seniors typically have an ergonomic handle that an elderly with a poor range of motion can manipulate easily.
Ease Of Use
Related to having an ergonomic handle, the toothbrush should be easy to use. Every aspect of the toothbrush, from the handle to the toothbrush head, should suit your specific needs regarding user experience. The last thing you want is to buy a toothbrush with too big a toothbrush head that your elderly loved one finds it difficult or impossible to reach deep into their mouth with the brush.
Easy To Hold Onto
For the elderly who have issues with their hands, the toothbrush needs to be chunky, with a non-slip grip handle. Such a handle makes it easy for you or an elderly loved one to hold onto their brush. Importantly, a solid grip allows seniors to control the pressure they apply on their teeth, ensuring they clean their teeth thoroughly.
Soft Vs. Medium Vs. Hard Bristles
Given that seniors are susceptible to receding gums, it’s important to choose a toothbrush that is gentle on the gums. As such, most dentists advise their elderly patients to use soft-bristled brushes.
As with everything a senior uses, quality is an important consideration. It is paramount that the toothbrush that you or your senior loved one uses is manufactured to the highest standard possible. Aside from having a design optimized for seniors, the material inputs for manufacturing the toothbrush should be high-standard BPA-free toothbrushes.
Electric Toothbrushes vs. Manual Toothbrushes
My usual recommendation is for seniors and the elderly to use an electric toothbrush because they do a better job cleaning teeth in less than time than a manual toothbrush. If you’d like to also explore this option, here is my list of the best electric toothbrushes for seniors and the elderly.
What Are the Best Manual Toothbrushes for Seniors & Elderly
Based on the suggestions above, here are the standard toothbrushes that I recommend for aging adults.
The RADIUS Flex Brush with Soft Bristles Toothbrush is a featured-filled toothbrush that spots a unique design. Importantly, it’s highly optimized to meet the needs of seniors who are looking to improve their oral hygiene.
For starters, the brush has a supersized oval brush head attached to a flexible neck. This design choice allows the toothbrush to clean those hard-to-reach parts of the mouth. Additionally, the flexible neck is angled to reduce the pressure you exert on your teeth and gums, which helps negate gum damage among hard brushers.
The vegetable-based nylon bristles are manufactured with the users’ health as the main issue of concern. While they are durable and can last longer, the most important feature of the bristles is that they are BPA-free and ADA accepted. They are also suited for seniors as they are exquisitely soft.
Finally, the RADIUS Flex Brush with Soft Bristles Toothbrush has an ergonomic easy-grip design with a smart palm and thumb design. The handle also has the recommended 45-degree hand-to-tooth angle.
These features combine to help enhance the oral hygiene of the elderly in ways few other toothbrushes can.
- Soft bristle give a gentle massage to the gums, enhancing gum health
- Comfortable to hold and use
- A flexible neck makes it easy to brush the hard-to-reach parts of the mouth
- The angled neck negates the risk of over-pressuring your teeth while you brush
- You have to brush longer to clean your teeth thoroughly
- The toothbrush head is oversized, and some seniors might struggle to use the brush
The Colgate Keep Soft Manual Toothbrush for Adults is designed to be great as a toothbrush and great for the environment. Its main design feature is a reusable aluminum handle that reduces plastic use by as much as 80% compared to similar-sized all-plastic toothbrushes that Colgate offers. It comes with two replaceable toothbrush heads, and you can purchase some more online.
The lightweight handle is optimized to reduce slippage while brushing, which is an important consideration for seniors.
The toothbrush head has soft floss-tip bristles designed to reach in between teeth and four times deeper into the gum, yielding a thorough clean. The head also comes with your gums, tongue, and cheeks. As innovative and environmentally conscious as this toothbrush is, it will improve your oral hygiene.
- The combination of a reusable aluminum handle and replaceable toothbrush heads make this toothbrush sustainable
- Grippy handle ensure the toothbrush doesn’t slip while brushing
- Ergonomic handle
- The lightweight handle provides a better feel, allowing users to apply the right pressure while brushing
- The toothbrush tip isn’t long enough for some people, causing the metal handle to hit the teeth in some cases
- Owing to the unconventional design of the handle, it does not fit in many holders
Receding and bleeding gums are a huge problem for many seniors. While there are numerous solutions to this problem, one of the best solutions is to switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush such as the OBrush Soft Toothbrush.
The distinguishing feature of the OBrush Soft Toothbrush is the 70μm micro-fine bristles made using advanced Japanese nanotech. The ultra-soft toothbrush does an excellent job of cleaning your teeth, gums, tongue, and cheeks and massaging your gums without causing bruising and bleeding.
The BPA-free toothbrush uses melting bristles technology to plant the bristles, thereby removing the need for metal staples. This enhances the safety of the toothbrush for seniors to use.
- The ultra-soft bristles are perfect for sensitive gums, as is the case with many seniors
- While the bristles are soft, they are tightly packed, creating a firm toothbrush head to brush with
- BPA-free bristles protect your overall health
- Comfortable handle
- The ultra-softness of the bristle require users to brush for longer to get the teeth clean
- The soft bristles leave users susceptible to plaque formation
- The tight soft bristles are sometimes unable to reach in between teeth
The Orasoft Extra Soft Toothbrush for Sensitive Teeth combines sustainability with excellent product quality. The toothbrush is designed from the ground up to be exceptionally soft and easy on the gums. This is particularly essential for seniors with sensitive gums and prone to gum bleeding and recession.
The product is made of sustainable materials – bamboo. As such, not only is this toothbrush devoid of chemicals such as BPA that are harmful to the health of seniors, the toothbrush is also biodegradable.
Every pack comes with 5 toothbrushes of two different lengths. As such, seniors can choose a toothbrush from lengths depending on their particular needs.
- The wooden texture of the handle makes gripping the toothbrush a lot easier
- Soft bristles that are gentle on the tongue, gums, and cheeks
- Made of bamboo – a biodegradable material (hence sustainable and BPA-free)
- Requires special care and storage to avoid the bamboo collecting bacteria
- The bristles are not long-lasting
The Colgate 360 toothbrush is designed to clean your teeth thoroughly while protecting your teeth and gums from abrasion. It comes with extra soft bristles that only work to remove dirt and plaque without damaging your gums.
It also comes with a polishing cup, a feature that’s designed to remove teeth stains, giving you a brighter smile. Finally, it has a tongue and cheek cleaner that helps in removing bacteria in your mouth, giving you a fresh breath.
- Clean teeth well
- The bristles are soft
- Has a tongue, cheeks, and gums cleaner
- It comes with an ergonomic handle
- The tongue cleaner is abrasive and not suitable for use on seniors with serious or mild gum issues
- Has durability issues as it won’t last long
Using Toothbrush Holders to Make Toothbrushes Easier to Hold
To enhance the grooming independence of the elderly, caretakers can add accessories such as the Vive Health’s Foam Grip Tubing or a weighted holder like this utensil holder from Caregiver Products to their toothbrushes.
The wide Foam Grip gives users stable grip control over their toothbrushes. Additionally, the foam tubing provides a non-slip surface for seniors to hold onto while brushing their teeth.
On the other hand, the weighted holder helps stabilize tremulous hands, thereby enhancing hand-eye coordination and control over the toothbrush. Greater control reduces the risk of slipping and injuring oneself while brushing teeth.
It’s not enough to brush your teeth as a senior. You should also think of how you do it and the tools you use. Your toothbrush will influence your brushing experience and overall oral health. As such, a quality toothbrush with soft (and sometimes ultra-soft) bristles in the solution. Please choose any of our picks for a healthier and cleaner mouth.