Toothbrushing tips for people with reduced dexterity

Community Dental Services

There are a range of brushes that can help people with reduced dexterity who may find it difficult to hold and move a toothbrush.

An electric toothbrush usually has a thick handle and the movement of the bristles does most of the work for the user.

A thick handled brush, or one that is adapted (e.g. by placing a ball or foam over the end), can also make brushing easier.

Some specialised toothbrushes, like the ‘Collis Curve’ or ‘Dr Barman’s Super Brush’, can help a person with limited dexterity or a carer to brush the teeth as more surfaces are brushed at once.

If you wish, you may contact your dentist to discuss what options may be most suitable for your needs. Some options may incur a more significant cost than others.

  • Thickened Handle

Toothbrushes can either have a wider handle added or can come with a widened handle in place to make gripping easier.

  • Adapted Handle

Toothbrushes can have tennis/squash balls, insulation tubing, putty or handle bar grips adding to them to make the handles larger and the toothbrush longer.

  • Electric Toothbrush

Often have thicker, more chunky handles which are easier to grip. They are heavier than a manual toothbrush. The movement of the brush-head can help with finer cleaning movements.

  • Dr Barman’s Super Brush

A 3 headed toothbrush with angled bristles. Enables users to simultaneously clean all surfaces to the tooth and gum line

  • Collis Curve

A 3 headed curved bristle toothbrush. Enables users to clean all surfaces of the tooth and gum. Available in various sizes including a chemotherapy soft brush, and brush for gum disease.

Adaptations for the toothbrush

Some patients have the ability to brush their own teeth and may only require some modifications to their toothbrush. Here is some information on how to modify a toothbrush to make it more usable for those with reduced dexterity:

  1. Add a larger grip to the toothbrush

This can allow someone to hold and manipulate the brush themselves.

This can be done by:

  • Purchasing a brush with a larger handle. Some companies already produce toothbrushes with a bigger handle for better gripping.
  • Making a slit into tennis or squash ball and slide the bottom of the toothbrush handle into the ball.
  • Sliding the bottom of the toothbrush into a bicycle handle grip or any type of rubber or even foam tubing.
  • Wrapping a small cloth around the bottom of the brush.
  • Other patients might need a longer toothbrush to better reach their mouth in order to be able to brush on their own.

To elongate the toothbrush, add some type of tubing to the bottom of the brush.

  • Try an electric toothbrush

For those who are able to brush their own teeth, try an electric toothbrush. Not only does this make holding the brush easier, it also reduces the dexterity required.

  • Dextbrush

For older children and adults with limited dexterity and unable to use a conventional toothbrush. It allows patients to brush over the tops of their teeth, while tilting the brush slightly to reach the inner and outer surfaces. The wider spaced bristles hold water which can help deliver moisture to patients with dry mouth.

  • ‘TePe Extra Grip’

The TePe Extra Grip will fit the handle of certain toothbrushes. It can help to give better control and enable the user to clean more effectively if they have specific problems in gripping more slender handles.

  • Handcuff toothbrush strap

This can aid tooth brushing where gripping a toothbrush is not possible. The strap attaches to the hand and holds the toothbrush in place. An elastic band can also be used.

  • Some patients might require changes to the shape of the toothbrush to make it angled for better access to their teeth.

This can be done by:

  1. Purchasing a brush that is bent to a more useful angle for brushing.
  2. Running the toothbrush handle (avoiding the bristles) under very hot water so that you can gently bend the plastic according to the patient’s needs (Please use caution to avoid risk of injury).
  • Automatic toothpaste dispenser

Where there are difficulties dispensing toothpaste from a tube onto a toothbrush, these can assist.

Useful search engine terms:

  • Collis Curve
  • Dr Barman’s super brush
  • TePe extra grip
  • Dext brush
  • Toothbrush for arthritis

Whilst some brands are specifically named in this leaflet, we do not endorse these brands. These are only suggestions and similar products may be used/ substituted.

How to contact us

Barnsley (New Street)
Telephone: 01226 645150

Doncaster (The Flying Scotsman Centre)
Telephone: 01302 563163

Rotherham (Rotherham Community Health Centre)
Telephone: 01709 423110

Produced by the Rotherham Community Dental Service. February 2022. 
Version: 1.0. Next Revision Due: February 2024. 
©The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust 2022. All rights reserved.

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  • Page last reviewed: 13 February 2023
  • Next review due: 13 February 2024