Should I Use a Soft, Medium, or Hard Bristle Toothbrush?

Purchasing a new toothbrush can be a bit mind-boggling. With a whole aisle stocked with colors, styles, and lengths, how do you choose? Before picking randomly, make sure to select the bristle hardness to best meet your dental needs. 

The toothbrush debut

Some form of a brush for teeth has been around for millennia. According to the Library of Congress, “The bristle toothbrush, similar to the type used today, was not invented until 1498 in China. The bristles were actually the stiff, coarse hairs taken from the back of a hog’s neck and attached to handles made of bone or bamboo.” Softer toothbrushes were made out of horsehair. That changed (thankfully) in 1938 when nylon bristles were introduced. 

Choosing the right toothbrush

Oral hygiene is essential for your overall health. In fact, good oral hygiene can help lower your risk for heart disease, reduce memory loss, protect a pregnancy, and so much more. 

A quality electric toothbrush is typically more effective than a manual brush. Regardless of whether you choose manual or electric, the only toothbrush recommended by dentists is a soft bristle. Here’s why:

Soft Bristles

  • A toothbrush with soft bristles is gentler on your teeth and gums. 
  • A soft bristle helps to prevent receding gums and the exposure of tooth roots.
  • The bristles move easily between teeth getting into crevices other brushes can’t reach.
  • The soft bristles help maintain healthy tooth enamel.
  • Extra-soft bristles are recommended for children under the age of 5.

Dentists do not recommend a medium or hard bristle brush because of the damage they can do to your teeth and gums. Besides, your teeth will not get any cleaner because you use a stiffer bristle. 

The proper brushing technique

The ADA, advises this brushing technique:

  • Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums. 
  • Gently move the brush back and forth in short (tooth-wide) strokes. 
  • Brush the outer surfaces, inner surfaces, and chewing surfaces of the teeth.
  • To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several up-and-down strokes.
  • Use low-abrasive toothpaste based on its Relative Dentinal Abrasivity (RDA).

The ADA recommends brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time and flossing daily. Some people also benefit from the use of a water flosser, such as a Waterpik. Remember to replace your toothbrush every three to four months, and never share your toothbrush or toothpaste.

Regular dental checkups 

In addition to choosing the correct toothbrush, the ADA advocates seeing your dentist regularly to prevent and treat oral disease.

Schedule an appointment with Dr. Foote for thorough cleaning of your teeth. The dental hygienists at Bryan G. Foote, DDS, will remove harmful plaque, check for tooth decay, and make sure your gums are healthy.