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  • Dr. Greg Grobmyer

MD Brush Review: The Return of the Manual Toothbrush?

The MD Toothbrush is a leap forward in toothbrush design and may even clean better than an electric toothbrush. What makes it so different from the rest?


I began dental practice twenty years ago this year, and in all that time I have been encouraging patients to use an electric toothbrush.

It’s not that an electric brush is inherently better. It’s just that, believe it or not, most people don’t know how to best use a manual brush. An electric brush takes a lot of the technique out of the hand of the user and makes it automatic. Better technique means better results.

The MD toothbrush puts technique front and center with a manual brush design that guides how you brush, helping you clean areas that other brushes (including electric ones) tend to miss.

MD brush overview

The MD toothbrush is the brainchild of Micheal Davidson, a dental hygienist in Pearland, Texas. He came up with the original design for the brush in 2007 and fashioned a clay model of his design in his garage. The next day he took it to the dentist at the office where he worked, Dr. Micheal Smith. Smith knew immediately that Davidson was on to something. After seven years of product redesign, tweaking, and manufacturing snafus, the MD Brush was finally released on the market in 2014.

The design focus of the MD Brush is based around something called the “sulcus” and how to best keep it clean. Around every tooth, there is a small pocket of gum tissue which folds over before attaching to the neck of the tooth. This pocket is known as the sulcus.

Even in healthy mouths, the sulcus around each tooth tends to catch and hold food particles and bacteria. If not kept clean, this gum tissue gets inflamed; a condition called gingivitis. If it continues to hold bacteria, the gum pocket gets deeper and bone deteriorates, which is called periodontitis. Deeper pockets are even harder to keep clean and the cycle continues. If you lose enough bone around teeth, they eventually get loose and may even be lost.

Davidson and Smith say they created the MD brush to teach patients what proper brushing technique feels like. Electric brushes may help ensure patients are brushing long enough and effectively clean the crown of the tooth, but the MD Brush is aimed at cleaning under the gums, where gum disease starts.

MD brush features

The MD Brush differs from a traditional toothbrush in two major ways; the handle and the bristles. The company holds patents on both of these design differences. When you first look at an MD Brush, you notice the handle. It looks fatter than a traditional manual toothbrush and features an X-shaped cross-section where your thumb and first finger rest. If you set the brush on the counter, you will see that the bristles of the brush are placed at a 45-degree angle to the body of the brush instead of coming straight up off the handle.

The bristles themselves look unusual. There are two rows of white bristles set along the edges of the brush with a horizontal cut at the tips. Between these are two rows of green bristles which are a full 3 millimeters longer than the outside rows. Although less obvious than the handle, this feature is just as important, if not more.

The newest version includes activated charcoal bristles, which may help bond to debris and bacteria and carry them away.

How do you use the MD Brush?

You’ve probably never heard of the BASS brushing technique, but it is likely the way your dentist brushes. It is the method taught in dental schools and endorsed by the American Dental Association as the most effective at preventing gum disease.

The BASS method involves pointing the bristles of your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle towards your gum line and pressing them gently into the sulcus, or gum pocket, around each tooth. You then use small back and forth strokes to cleanse the sulcus in the area where the bristles rest before moving on to another area.

The MD Brush encourages this brushing method.  When you hold the brush with your thumbs resting on any of the flat fins of the handle, the bristles automatically are angled at 45-degrees. If you look in a mirror, you will see an indicator on the end of the brush handle. As long as you see a plus sign shape and not an X you know you are angling it correctly. You’ll probably do this once and know how to hold it from then on.

Gently press the toothbrush head to your gum line. They will be pointing slightly up for your upper teeth and slightly down for the lower teeth. The bristles of the brush are designed so that the outer white bristles clean the crown of the tooth while the long green bristles extend into the sulcus and wipe it clean.

You will feel the bristles go under your gums slightly, and it feels good, like a little gum massage. Use small back and forth strokes, leaving the bristles in place and almost “shaking” the brush instead of sawing back and forth. After a few seconds, pick up and move on to the next few teeth. Brush the biting surfaces as normal. Continue until your whole mouth is clean.

It likely feels different from how you've been brushing, but once you try it, you may never want to do it any other way.

MD brush reviews

MD Brush has been out for several years now and generally gets great reviews:

‘My dentist said my gums were in exceptionally good shape. I totally attribute this change to the MD brush. Many thanks!” - Isabel M.

“My teeth felt like I just left getting them professionally “cleaned. I’m sold. I’ll never use another toothbrush.” - Melissa

“Initially this feels a bit bulky, but after just 1-or-2 uses, you realize just how well that handle fits into your hand. And by design, it ‘insists’ on keeping bristles at the correct angle, giving a thorough, surprisingly comfortable cleaning.” - Muriel T.

“I have been using MD brush for a few years now and with the new charcoal brushes, it's even better.” - Terry W.

“This was the best brush I’ve ever used! I’ve tried multiple electric brushes as well as countless other standard brushes and the MDBrush with Charcoal makes my teeth feel like I just left the dentist! I would highly highly recommend this brush!! Excellent!!” - Amazon User

Is MD brush worth a try?

At around $10 each, MD Brush is considerably more expensive than a traditional manual toothbrush. So is it worth trying?

Absolutely. As a Dentist, I have to admit I was skeptical at first. I thought this might just be a gimmick; just a toothbrush with angled bristles. After using it myself, however, I am won over.

While you can angle any manual toothbrush, most of us don’t, especially when we are in a hurry. This brush “makes” you do it correctly. And the specially designed bristles get into places that I was missing with my electric toothbrush with its flat head and short bristles. It is comfortable to use and my teeth feel amazing afterward!


- MD Brush features a unique angled head and specialized bristles.

- The handle design encourages brushing at a 45-degree angle as recommended by the American Dental Association.

-The unique bristles get deep into pockets that other brushes miss, helping to prevent gum disease.

-At $10 each, the brushes are relatively expensive, but after using one you may never go back! Consider their subscription service to lower the price per unit.

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