I know you’ve all been there. Standing in the personal hygiene, aisle dazed by the choices in the supermarket’s toothbrush section, asking yourself firm or soft bristled? Hot pink or neon green? Plaque-scouring or sensitive tooth-coddling? The one backed with that nubby rubber tongue scraper? Or maybe it’s time to go full electric? And yet, with so many options, still you wonder—is this it? Surely there must be a better-looking toothbrush.
Turns out, there is.
Riding the wake of the bespoke shaving supply boom of 2012, Swissco’s Designer Collection toothbrushes will please fans of straightforward Scandinavian design. Available in natural wood, striped and checked plastic (in basic black, royal blue, red or green), tortoise or white horn—there’s a brush to suit any tasteful bathroom tableau. The natural bristles are badger hair, so for those like me whose brushing style tends towards aggressive, they wear out and/or come loose quickly. If spitting out capsized bristles and frequent re-purchase doesn’t faze you as much as an unaesthetic toothbrush, Swissco is for you.
Leave it to the Italians/Slovakians to manufacture a beautiful toothbrush in the 1930s and change precious little about its design since. Koh-I-Noor’s is a tortoise cellulose acetate toothbrush outfitted with nylon, badger, or boar hair bristles (depending on your preferred firmness). The head of this toothbrush is large, almost cartoonishly so (one imagines a silk-robed Andre the Giant as the ideal user), but for that reason, perhaps more efficient? It’s also the most expensive of the bunch at a cool $19.
Morihata Binchotan Toothbrushes
This lithe Japanese wonder has made a base for itself on a variety of design-minded retail sites including Need Supply, Steven Alan, and Schoolhouse Electric Co. The sturdy black bristles are blended with Binchotan charcoal, which acts as a disinfectant and breath freshener. Made of lightweight polypropylene and available in black, white, and primary colors, this brush feels like the sleekest choice for your mouth and medicine cabinet.
You may have noticed Radius products in a health food store near you—they’re pretty hard to miss. Oversized and candy-colored, these toothbrushes were designed to revitalize the daily grooming experience by making it more fun. Developed in 1983 by a pair of architects on the island of Tortola (not a sitcom pilot plot, promise!), the Radius Original bears little resemblance to a traditional toothbrush; it boasts an extra-large, extra-soft bristled brush head designed to massage gums as it cleans teeth. This feature was the deal-breaker for me; as mentioned earlier, I prefer a more gum-scouring experience. But don’t take my word alone for it: Radius is beloved by the likes of Cher, Whoopi Goldberg, and Martha Stewart. Its injection-molded body is also very nice to handle, while the novelty of left- or right-handed brushes led a lefty like myself to rue decades of needless hygienic assimilation.
In 1987, Braun designers Peter Schneider and Jürgen Greubel (under the supervision of Chief Design Officer Dieter Rams) developed this model for the American dental company Oral-B. The streamlined Plus was clear plastic, offered in a range of jewel-toned colors and ergonomically ribbed for better grip. To me, this is as good looking as a toothbrush can hope to be, and sadly, it’s pretty much impossible to find these days, having been replaced of late by the brand’s much less inspired Indicator. If you’re reading, Oral-B, consider this a plea from the people. In the words of Rams himself: “Back to purity! Back to simplicity!” Back to the Plus!
Till that day comes, those of you with pressing need for a crystalline plastic toothbrush with a simple profile might do well to check out Muji’s affordable flat-type toothbrush.
Photographed by Ben Jurgensen.