Y-Brush DuoBrush Sonic Toothbrush Review: U-Shaped and Sonic Brush Heads

I’ve long been skeptical of alternative toothbrushes, those mouthguard-like trays filled with nylon bristles that claim to brush your teeth in just 10 to 30 seconds. I’ve found them to be OK for days when I’m just too tired for a full brushing, but it doesn’t quite get my teeth clean enough. I’ve never felt like I could get close to someone’s face and chat after. But Y-Brush’s DuoBrush also comes with a regular sonic brush head. Both click onto the same brush handle.

U-shaped brushes aren’t a replacement for regular brushing. Your tongue still needs to be cleaned everyday, which these can’t do, and they’re likely missing some build-up and plaque. But for people with mobility problems, or in nursing homes or for small children, they can be useful tools. Despite watching Timmy the Tooth on repeat in my youth, some days even I struggle. That’s when I liked reaching for this.

Tooth by Tooth

The brand recommends using its Y-Brush for 10 to 20 seconds per jaw. I opted for 20 and occasionally went even longer. In addition to the vibrations caused by the brush handle, you should gently chew and slowly move it from side to side (that’s recommended with all these types of brushes). This gets your back teeth and offers a little more movement for the bristles to really work—according to the company, there are 35,000 bristles arranged in the tray. Taking it out and flipping it to get the rest of your teeth can be a little messy and slobbery, but do it over the sink and you should be fine.

While the brand does claim that the Y-Brush gets your teeth as clean in one minute as a regular brush does in two, I think having both the Y-brush and the sonic brush is important. It reminds you that you need to have a well-rounded dental routine, even if once a day you take the easier route. I brushed my teeth and tongue with the regular brush head in the morning or before I went somewhere, and used the U-shaped head at night. My teeth felt cleaner, but not as clean as they typically do.

Electric toothbrush with curved attachment and standard brush head beside it sitting on green sink counter

Photograph: Medea Giordano

If I only used the U-shaped brush, my teeth wouldn’t fall out of my head, but I also don’t think they’d be sparkling or that my mouth would feel minty fresh. Still, I could go to bed at night not feeling completely gross.

It comes only in one size, though the tray head is made to fit most adult mouths. Every one of these alternative brushes I’ve tried has fit my top teeth comfortably, but hurts the back of my bottom jaw, where the edges push against my back gums. Thankfully, you don’t have to use it very long. The sonic brush head is standard and feels like any affordable brush I’ve tried. I like the options available from Sonicare more, as they’re just a little more dense without being hard, but the DuoBrush is on par with many others in the category.

The company recommends a toothpaste that foams well, but it works with any that you like. I used it with Crest and Sensodyne and found that both did the job, but you do end up using a bit more than you do on a regular brush head. Make sure you thoroughly clean the tray after each use, so spit and toothpaste doesn’t sit in between all those bristles. That would make for a nasty surprise next time you try to clean your teeth.

Brush Away

If you’ve been curious about these types of alternative toothbrushes, it might be worth giving the DuoBrush a try. At $80, it’s not a bad price for two types of brushes. WIRED writer and reviewer Brenda Stolyar likes the Symplbrush. It has more bristles—each clump of bristles is basically a regular toothbrush, plus they’re arranged on all three sides of the tray. That one is $129, however, and you still need another toothbrush. You also have to replace the heads, like with any electric toothbrush.

Y-Brush recommends changing the heads every four months, which is another $40. That’s kind of steep even with two brush heads included.

Mobility difficulties, depression, and exhaustion are just a few reasons why your dental care might suffer. If you’re a parent, you may have had more than a few moments where a frustrated or screaming child just refused to brush. You might take care of elderly family members who struggle to brush. If you think a U-shaped brush might work for you, the Y-brush is an affordable one to try.

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