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
- Flexible and soft bristles
- Comfortable handle
- Not powered
Best electric U-shaped toothbrush
The Kids U Shaped Electric Toothbrush has five smart cleaning modes, including standard, gum
- Five smart cleaning modes
- Not easy for children to keep clean
Best U-shaped toothbrush for different ages
Available in different sizes to suit different age needs, the ZALUJMUS Kids U-shaped Toothbrush is
- 360 cleaning
- Ergonomic design
- Some mentioned that a normal toothbrush would be better for older children
Best novelty U-shaped toothbrush
The Kids U Shaped Toothbrush Dual Extra Soft Silicone Brush Head has a lovely cartoon design
- Can be cleaned in a steriliser
- Extra soft silicone brush head
- Handle might be too bulky for some
Best U-shaped toothbrush three pack
The Fantasyon 3 Pack Kids U-Shaped Toothbrush comes in three cute designs that little ones will
- Cute design
- Smooth bristles
- Might not need three
Best five pack U-shaped toothbrush
For use as a toothbrush as well as supporting those last few painful teeth coming through, the 5
- Can be used for toothing too
- Comfortable handle
- You have to clean them properly as the toothpaste can build up
Best U-shaped toothbrush for older children
The transparent Vicloon U Shaped Toothbrush has soft bristles so that it's gentle when your child
- 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.