U-shaped toothbrush: what is it and are they effective?

kids u shaped toothbrush

by Bryony Firth-Bernard |

Teaching your child to brush their teeth is super important, however if they have reduced manual dexterity then a U-shaped toothbrush may be better suited to them, than a regular toddler toothbrush or electric kids toothbrush.

“A U-shaped toothbrush is a toothbrush in the shape of your dental arch (the curved structure that houses your teeth and gums),” says Dr Safa Al-Naher, mum-of-three and principal dentist and founder of Serene by Dr Safa.

“The aim of a U shaped toothbrush is to reduce the time it takes to brush your teeth and it can be easier to use for people with reduced manual dexterity.”

There’s plenty of kids U shaped toothbrushes available to buy. However, if you’re still a little unsure as to whether a U-shaped toothbrush may be beneficial for your child, then keep on reading our guide where Dr Safa answers everything you need to know about U shaped toothbrushes.

Are U shaped toothbrushes more effective than a regular toothbrush?

“People want to use U-shaped toothbrushes for their children because children generally have reduced manual dexterity compared with adults,” explains Dr Safa. “The advice we give as dentists is that children should have their teeth brushed for them until the age of around eight. This is the time children start to develop manual dexterity enough to reach and clean all of their teeth surfaces effectively.

“As a mother myself, I know it is very difficult to get children to stand still for long enough to brush all the surfaces of their teeth properly, and it might be too difficult to brush their teeth at all.

“There haven’t been many studies done on U-shaped toothbrushes. However, the limited studies that have been done show they are much less effective than both a manual toothbrush and an electric toothbrush. Using a U-shaped toothbrush could be comparable to not brushing at all. Generally, dentists don’t like them, as they are not very effective.”

How do you use a U-shaped toothbrush?

Dr Safa says it’s very straight forward, “The U-shaped brush fits into your mouth like a mouthguard. If you get an electric U-shaped toothbrush it vibrates and cleans your teeth at once, whereas if it’s a manual one you will need to move the bristles yourself.”

brushing children's teeth

Pros and cons of a U-shaped toothbrushes

“If the brush is from a reputable brand, with evidence-based research to show the efficacy, then using a u-shaped brush for someone who is less-abled or who won’t open their mouth very easily, could be better than not brushing at all,” says Dr Safa.

However if this is not the case, then Dr Safa advises against using them.

“Firstly, because they don’t work as well as normal brushes and secondly because putting a big u-shaped appliance into a child’s mouth is much more traumatic and less likely to be accepted than using a toothbrush,” she says.

“Young children should get into the habit of using a toothbrush, as this is part of building good oral health habits. From the moment your child cuts their first tooth they should start getting used to the idea of having their teeth brushed.

“If a child is particularly resistant when they are very little, I would give them the brush to play with, with a tiny smear of age-appropriate toothpaste on. As they get older they may watch other children, such as older siblings brushing their teeth, and it will become easier to encourage them to brush their own. I always let young children play with the toothbrush at the end of brushing their teeth, because it encourages some autonomy and gets them into good habits.”

Best kids U-shaped toothbrush

If you're looking for a U-shaped toothbrush for your baby or toddler, below we've rounded up the best ones available to buy now.

2 Packs Kids U-shaped Toothbrush 

two pack kids U shaped toothbrush

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There's no doubt your little one will be over the moon using these adorable looking U-shaped toothbrushes. Simply squirt the tooth paste around the brush and then pop in your child's mouth and gentle move from side to side. They'll make cleaning their teeth a breeze.

Verified customer review: "I always struggle to brush my son's teeth. He is 3-years-old. I bought many different types of toothbrushes to encourage him. I bought these for my daughter and son and they love them. The colourful character made it easy to brush their teeth. The toothbrush came with a plastic cover which keeps brushing nice and clean after use. Very easy to use, both of them love it."

ZALUJMUS Kids U-shaped toothbrush

ZALUJMUS Kids U-Shaped toothbrush

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This pack of U-shaped toothbrushes are a bargain. They're suitable for 2 to 6 year olds and you'll get a pink and blue one in your pack, giving your little one a choice depending on what mood they're in. The silicone bristles are gentle on gums and teeth to ensure their mouth stays squeaky clean.

Verified customer review: "My children are 4 years old and 8 years old. They cry, scream and moan every time that I brush their teeth and they refuse to do it themselves. I got this product and finally my kids look forward to morning and night time brushing and to top it all off they are doing it independently without my help."

Runmeihe® Kids U-shaped toothbrush

Runmeihe® Kids U Shaped Toothbrush

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We love the design of this funky U-shaped toothbrush. Available in pink and blue, this U-shaped toothbrush is suitable for children aged 2 to 7. The toothbrush head is also made of antibacterial silica gel.

Verified customer review: "Lovely, colourful and well made toothbrush. My 3-year-old is not a fan of brushing his teeth, however he enjoys being able to ‘bite’ his brush and with a gentle wiggle I know we are slowly building his confidence and comfort using a toothbrush."

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