U-Shaped Toothbrushes: What Are They and Do They Work?
Automatic toothbrushes, often referred to as u-shaped toothbrushes or 360 toothbrushes, are whole-mouth toothbrushes that brush all surface areas of your teeth at once.
A new contender to the toothbrush category, there’s plenty of confusion about differentiators between brands, how these things work, and if they even clean teeth.
AutoBrush has become the coined name of the category of u-shaped toothbrushes, but that’s where the similarities end.
More on that soon. But first…
What is a U-Shaped Toothbrush?
Automatic u-shaped toothbrushes come with a silicone mouthpiece that is, well, u-shaped. These mouthpiece toothbrushes typically have bristles on both sides that are able to hit every surface area of your teeth at once.
You’ll here these brushes commonly referred to as:
- U-shaped toothbrush
- Automatic toothbrush
- Mouthpiece toothbrush
- 360 toothbrush
They all represent the same category.
Common Myths & Misconceptions
If you Google “automatic toothbrush”, “u-shaped toothbrush”, “mouthpiece toothbrush” or “360 toothbrush”, you’ll find plenty of opinions and outdated data.
Plus, the term “automatic” can be misleading.
Let’s break down the biggest u-shaped toothbrush myths and misleading pre-conceptions.
U-shaped brushes require no brushing / movement
This is not true. Any reputable u-shaped toothbrush should come with instructions to move the brush side-to-side and in a circular or figure-eight motion.
They are faster and easier than traditional brushing, but still require the brusher to physically brush.
Here’s an example of instructions with our recommended brushing technique. This is the same technique and instructions used in our clinical trial.
U-shaped toothbrushes don’t work
This is by far the most common misconception. The truth is, reputable, nylon-bristled 360 toothbrushes have been proven to be 27X more effective at removing plaque in kids than a traditional brush based on a recent study by Salus Research.
However, this myth isn’t entirely wrong.
You’ll see lots of cheap knockoffs using silicone bristles, which have been proven to be about as effective as not brushing at all.
There are plenty of cheap u-shaped toothbrushes that simply don’t clean well at all. It’s imperative to choose a data-backed nylon option when you choose a 360 brush.
U-shaped toothbrushes make kids lazy
This one is so far from the truth. Automatic toothbrushes simply give kids (and adults!) better tools to hit every spot on every tooth when they brush.
Think about it: if you had a tedious task at work that took up 4 hours per week, but you could create a tool that cut that time down to just one hour, you’d use it, wouldn’t you?
Sometimes a new or better way to do something comes along. It’s not always a bad thing!
Remember when phones were just for calling?
Sometimes technology is pretty cool.
How U-Shaped Toothbrushes Work
Okay, now that we’ve talked about what isn’t accurate, let’s get down to how this innovative brushing tool cleans your teeth!
The ADA recommends brushing for 2 minutes to ensure you brush each quadrant of your mouth for 30 seconds.
The problem here is:
- Two minutes is a long time.
- This assumes that in each quadrant, you’re spending an equal amount of time on every surface area of every tooth.
Listen, humans are flawed!
Most of us can barely send a text without a typo. How do you expect people, especially children, to equally divide their brushing time between all surfaces of their teeth?
With a u-shaped mouthpiece toothbrush, you have bristles surrounding each tooth from all angles. This allows you to hit every spot in 30 seconds using a simple, kid-proof brushing technique.
Types of U-Shaped Toothbrushes
Automatic toothbrushes are typically categorized like traditional toothbrushes, split into manual and electric.
Electric mouthpiece toothbrushes come in options from standard electric brushes to more advanced options that include light therapy for whitening and gum therapy.
I believe it’s most important to separate u-shaped toothbrushes by bristle type: silicone and nylon.
Manual mouthpiece toothbrushes are typically designed for young kids as a starter brush. They have no vibrations and effectively clean when the brusher moves the brush side-to-side and in a circular or figure-eight motion.
These are a great option for a starter brush or for anyone sensitive to the vibrations of an electric toothbrush.
Because they still have bristles surrounding all surface areas of the teeth, the cleaning experience is on par with electric versions as long as you have a model with nylon bristles.
Electric or sonic u-shaped toothbrushes typically come with the same type of mouthpiece + a battery-powered vibrating base.
It’s important to note that while the vibrations increase cleaning, it’s still necessary to actively brush in that side-to-side and circular or figure-eight motion.
Standard or base models are often an electric base that you can turn on/off with no bells and whistles. This is perfect if you’re interested in an affordable, streamlined cleaning experience that provides a simpler, better clean.
Our kid’s option still comes with a fun animal character and built-in brushing song because…we just couldn’t stop ourselves!
The top tier of electric toothbrushes vary between manufacturers. AutoBrush Pro electric u-shaped toothbrushes include:
- Color & character selection Blue and red light therapy (whitening, antibacterial, and gum-soothing)
- 3 cleaning modes
- 3 timer modes
- Fully waterproof base
If there is one thing you take away from this, let it be this: if you’re going to choose a u-shaped toothbrush, it MUST have nylon bristles.
Nylon bristles are what you’ll find on a traditional manual or electric toothbrush. The ultra-fine bristles are proven strong enough to remove plaque, while gentle on your gums (as long as you buy a soft-bristled brush).
A nylon u-shaped toothbrush is like using 20 toothbrushes in one - taking the bristles of over 20 traditional brushes and incorporating them into one mouthpiece toothbrush.
All AutoBrush products come with nylon-bristled brush heads.
I’ll keep this short: dull silicone bristles do not remove plaque.
Even if your kids like them, they just don’t work.
Avoid them at all costs.
Who are U-Shaped Toothbrushes for?
Anyone with teeth! There are 360 toothbrush options for kids and adults alike.
They’re most popular with kids 3-12 and with persons with disabilities because they provide an effective solution to independent brushing.
Kids u-shaped toothbrushes
In addition to making brushing more effective, most automatic toothbrushes for kids come with fun designs that kids enjoy using.
Many also come with lights and music that help kids learn to enjoy brushing and help parents end daily brush wars.
Adults u-shaped toothbrushes
Many brushers think 360 toothbrushes are just for kids, but they’re becoming increasingly popular with adults.
People of all ages need help maintaining a proper brushing routine. Plus, top-tier versions often double as wireless at-home whitening kits!
When you pair the whitening blue light with either advanced whitening toothpaste or whitening pens, the blue light activates the whitening agent and lifts stains without causing sensitivity.
U-shaped toothbrushes for persons with disabilities
Mouthpiece toothbrushes are great for promoting independence for people with disabilities that make traditional brushing difficult.
Anyone with sensory sensitivities, decreased strength or mobility, or mental health challenges that make a traditional brushing routine difficult to complete independently can benefit from a nylon automatic toothbrush.
While some brushing technique is still involved and some brushers may still need some assistance, this quick, uncomplicated approach to brushing has been wildly impactful for many people who struggle with traditional brushes.
Pros & Cons of U-Shaped Toothbrushes
- Cut brushing time in ¼
- Eliminates user error by brushing all surface areas at once
- Reaches hard-to-reach and under-brushed areas
- Simple, effective brushing technique
- Silicone knockoffs are common and ineffective
- Mouthpiece brush heads can be uncomfortable for some brushes
- Brushing new places can cause some bleeding and discomfort as brushers adjust
U-Shaped Toothbrush FAQs
Do u-shaped toothbrushes work?
AutoBrush u-shaped nylon toothbrushes are clinically proven to remove plaque 27X better than a manual toothbrush based on a study by Salus research.
Reputable nylon mouthpiece toothbrushes work better than manual brushes because they brush every surface area of the teeth at once, eliminating user error.
What’s the best u-shaped toothbrush?
AutoBrush is the only u-shaped toothbrush clinically proven to remove 27X more plaque than a traditional toothbrush.
All AutoBrush models feature the tested double-sided nylon brush head with up to 58,000 tapered bristles, so every model will give you an exceptional cleaning experience.
- AutoBrush Basic is a manual, budget-friendly starter model.
- AutoBrush (standard model) includes up to 30,000 sonic pulses per minute .
- AutoBrush: Kids (standard model) has the same features as the adult version + a built-in brushing song.
- AutoBrush Pro has the same features as the standard model + doubles as a wireless home whitening kit; includes LED red light therapy, personalized cleaning and timer modes, and a fully waterproof base.
- AutoBrush Pro: Kids includes all Pro adult features + exclusive characters like Daniel Tiger and our signature kid’s brushing song.
Are u-shaped toothbrushes ADA accepted?
We’re confident enough to say…
Stay tuned ;)