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

U-shaped toothbrush

by Samantha Ball |
Updated on

Some children have reduced manual dexterity, making brushing their teeth a little more difficult when using a standard manual or electric toothbrush, which is where a U-shaped toothbrush may be better suited to them.

Designed in a similar style to a mouth guard, it's a toothbrush that's designed to clean all the teeth at once. When your child becomes more independent and no longer needs you to use a baby toothbrush to help brush their teeth, a U-shaped toothbrush can support them with that independence while being effective at brushing their teeth.

We spoke to Dr Safa Al-Naher, mum-of-three and principal dentist and founder of Serene, about the benefits of a U-shaped toothbrush.

Best U-shaped toothbrushes at a glance

Best overall U-shaped toothbrush: 2 Packs Kids U-shaped Toothbrush - Buy here on Amazon.
Best electric U-shaped toothbrush: RexCodar Kids U Shaped Electric Toothbrush - Buy here on Amazon.
Best U-shaped toothbrush three pack: Fantasyon 3 Pack Kids U Shaped Toothbrush - Buy here on Amazon.

She said: "A U-shaped toothbrush is a toothbrush in the shape of your dental arch (the curved structure that houses your teeth and gums), and the aim is to reduce the time it takes to brush your teeth and it can be easier to use for people with reduced manual dexterity."

Best overall U-shaped toothbrush

The 2 Packs Kids U-shaped Toothbrush is easy to use and has a handle that's comfortable for small hands to hold. It's a quirky design with pink and blue colour options. The toothbrush aims to evenly clean the spaces between the teeth without hurting the gums or teeth.

One customer review: "My 19 month old has gone through a phase of now hating her teeth being brushed. Especially when new teeth are cutting through. It's been a nightmare. But with these, somehow it helped a lot more than I had ever been getting beforehand. For some reason she would laugh at the feeling - guess it tickled her gums. Which has changed her mind on the brushing teeth time. It's quick and simple to do and each tooth gets cleaned. Love these little brushes"


  • Flexible and soft bristles
  • Comfortable handle


  • Not powered
Suitable for ages:2 to 6 years old

Best electric U-shaped toothbrush

The Kids U Shaped Electric Toothbrush has five smart cleaning modes, including standard, gum protection, cleaning, whitening and deep cleaning mode. It's an engaging design, making it more appealing to children, and the device itself is waterproof. It also has a 60-second timing reminder.

One customer wrote: "I purchased this for my son who doesn't like brushing his teeth. He immediately liked that it was easy to use the u shaped brush, that it was powerful enough to make his whole mouth feel extra clean and that it's durable. I like those things too! I like this toothbrush so well we are planning to buy our daughter one too. If you are thinking about buying a u shaped electric toothbrush this one will not disappoint. I highly recommend it!"


  • Rechargeable
  • Five smart cleaning modes


  • Not easy for children to keep clean
Suitable for ages:6 to 12 years

Best U-shaped toothbrush for different ages

Available in different sizes to suit different age needs, the ZALUJMUS Kids U-shaped Toothbrush is suitable for 2 to 6-year-olds, and you can buy sizes up to 12 years old too. The pack comes with a blue and pink toothbrush with silicone bristles that are gentle on gums and teeth.

One customer wrote: "This was pretty good. The bristles are more like training toothbrushes. You really have to swipe back and forth and slight angle up and down to get all the teeth. I'll say good for small toddlers. Not the best for older toddlers 8 and above. I bought both sizes for all my kids."


  • 360 cleaning
  • Ergonomic design


  • Some mentioned that a normal toothbrush would be better for older children
Suitable for ages:2 to 6 and 6 to 12 years

Best novelty U-shaped toothbrush

Best U-shaped toothbrush Kids U Shaped Toothbrush Dual Extra Soft Silicone Brush Head
Price: £4.99

The Kids U Shaped Toothbrush Dual Extra Soft Silicone Brush Head has a lovely cartoon design handle. It's made from food-grade silicone, meaning that you can help to keep it clean by sterilising it or by leaving it in a bowl of boiling water. It also comes in different age-suitability sizes and other colours.

One review said: "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."


  • Can be cleaned in a steriliser
  • Extra soft silicone brush head


  • Handle might be too bulky for some
Suitable for ages:2 to 7 and 7 to 14 years

Best U-shaped toothbrush three pack

The Fantasyon 3 Pack Kids U-Shaped Toothbrush comes in three cute designs that little ones will love. The pack of three is handy for sending one to grandparents or if you have more than one bathroom - no more looking for that missing toothbrush!

One review said: "We bought these to support with my daughters teeth. As she is growing older, she is also becoming more independent and wants to do everything herself. These toothbrushes are great with making sure her teeth stay clean. She loves using them. The fact there are three helps with putting them in different bathrooms so that we do not have to hunt for them. Great purchase"


  • Cute design
  • Smooth bristles


  • Might not need three
Suitable for ages: 2 to 6 year olds

Best five pack U-shaped toothbrush

For use as a toothbrush as well as supporting those last few painful teeth coming through, the 5 Pack Kids U-Shaped Whole Mouth Teeth Brush can have teething gel or toothpaste applied in order to help your child's teeth stay clean and grow healthy. The variety also allows for support in brushing their teeth from the age of two up to 12 years.

One review said: "This is the 2nd lot I have bought of these tooth brushes as my granddaughter has been using them to teeth on while teething. We found it easier to put a small amount of teething gel on and let her bite on them. They are also ideal for 1st experience of toothpaste on a brush"


  • Can be used for toothing too
  • Comfortable handle


  • You have to clean them properly as the toothpaste can build up
Suitable for ages:2 to 12 years

Best U-shaped toothbrush for older children

The transparent Vicloon U Shaped Toothbrush has soft bristles so that it's gentle when your child is brushing their teeth. This toothbrush is more suited to older children who may struggle with using a regular toothbrush. It also comes in a pack of two.

One review said: "I have two kids with special needs and these are perfect for there sensory needs" Another customer wrote: "My little one hates cleaning her teeth, she has ASD and sensory issues, this brush has been a life saver- she's got pearly whites now!"


  • Suction cup stand to help keep bristles clean
  • Soft bristles


  • Some mentioned they don't reach the back molars well

Are U shaped toothbrushes more effective than a regular toothbrush?

When teaching your child to brush their teeth, it can be difficult explaining how to get all the different angles.

"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 straightforward, "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."

Pros and cons of U-shaped toothbrushes

"If the brush is from a reputable brand, with evidence-based research to show the efficiency, 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."

Samantha Ball is a Product & Lifestyle Writer for Mother&Baby and freelanced for the website for two years before joining the team full time. She's a mum of two and loves browsing for the best products and cute outfits.

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