There are different types of toothbrush bristles for both manual and electric toothbrushes. What is the best bristle type for you?
Soft, medium and hard are the varieties most commonly sold.
Most toothbrush bristles are made of nylon, a practice started in the late 30’s. Softer bristles can also be made of polyester. Your dentist or oral health professional will advise you on the best bristle type based on your specific needs.
This article will help you better understand when each bristle type is recommended.
Tip: Most manufacturers will color code bristle type and indicate clearly at the top of the package what type of bristle you are buying.
Always double check the bristle type you are buying.
Some patients I’ve treated aren’t even sure if they are using a soft, medium or hard- bristled toothbrush.
The type I most recommend. It is the most comfortable and safest for gums. What do I mean? Most people don’t realize that the efficiency in a toothbrush lies not so much in how much pressure you apply to the brush, but in the brushing technique used. The brushing technique is probably the most important aspect in ensuring properly cleaned teeth.
Some people shy away from soft bristles because they say they can still feel plaque on their teeth after brushing. My answer is revisit your technique. Quite a few people put more pressure on the toothbrush when brushing than is actually needed. Combined with the truly horrendous vigorous up and down motion of brushing, gums can become irritated and damaged over time. I almost always recommend soft-bristled toothbrushes.
Parents please ensure that children are using soft-bristled brushes. This helps to make toothbrushing a pleasant experience.
There is also an ultra-soft type being manufactured by some brands. This type can be used by someone who has receding gums, may have undergone periodontal surgery or may have irritated gums.
As the name suggests this is a step up in hardness from soft bristles. Quite a few people use these because they can at times remove plaque quicker than a soft-bristled toothbrush. Soft-bristled toothbrushes may bend and flatten on the tooth surface. Speed is not the solution to better brushing. Technique is!
Too much pressure applied on these brushes can again cause damage to gums or enamel depending on the state of the tooth. If your dentist has recommended them to you, be extra careful when brushing around the gum line. Use small concentric circles with the minimum of pressure around the gums to prevent irritation.
I have personally never recommended them to anyone. Not even denture wearers. I have not come across a practical use for them in the mouth unless you have the tactile pressure of a leaf. Even if your teeth are stained these do not effectively remove stains. You risk damaging the enamel even more so if combined with abrasive substances.
Even individuals who do not have natural teeth should still beware of using hard-bristled brushes as certain porcelain, lithium disilicate or ceramic restorations can also be damaged by use of these toothbrushes.
Speak to your oral health provider to find out the right bristle for you. Toothbrushes should be replaced at least every 3 months.
Choosing the right toothbrush is just part of the bigger picture to healthy gums and teeth.