From an early age, you’ve have been told that it’s important to brush your teeth on a daily basis to maintain oral and dental hygiene. One thing that isn’t often discussed is the importance of the toothbrush bristle on the brush you use. A brush with a comfortable and effective bristle helps increase the likelihood of regular, thorough brushing. The toothbrush has come a long way too. The earliest toothbrushes were actually small twigs people rubbed against their teeth to get rid of food bits and other pieces of debris. Over hundreds of years it evolved, beginning to feature bristles made from boar’s hair. Finally, in the 1930s, DuPont de Nemours introduced toothbrushes made with nylon bristles, which people still use today. There are plenty of choices when it comes to your toothbrush and the type of bristle you get, we try to help you navigate that decision.


Toothbrush bristle types

When it comes to bristles, you can usually find extra soft, soft, medium and hard options. A hard toothbrush, also called a firm-bristled brush, is increasingly difficult to find. The type of bristles that are right for you depends on your specific oral care needs and any issues you might be suffering from at the time. As a general rule, however, dentists recommend choosing a toothbrush with soft bristles, instead of one considered hard or even medium. If you have sensitive teeth and signs of enamel erosion, your dentist may even suggest a brush with extra-soft bristles.

Soft or hard, what’s the difference?

Most dentists recommend soft-bristled toothbrushes, and extra-soft bristled toothbrushes for anyone who has sensitive teeth or gums, or is recovering from a dental procedure. Some people simply prefer soft bristles. But many people who don’t have sensitive teeth or gums prefer firmer bristles because they believe them to be more effective for removing plaque and stains from the teeth, though that is not the case. In many cases, harder bristles can damage your tooth enamel and make it possible for more cavities and other dental problems.


A “soft” bristle is generally defined as having a thickness of around 0.15 mm, while “hard” bristles are closer to 0.23 mm. Soft bristles are effective, and they’re the best choice for people with any sort of dental issue. They’re less likely to accidentally damage your gums or cause bleeding, but they’re still effective at removing tartar and plaque. However, some people prefer stiffer bristles, which remove plaque more vigorously. In clinical studies, stiff bristles have been shown to remove more plaque, but at the same time, they’re more likely to cause gingival lesions. However, the difference in plaque removal isn’t considered statistically significant, so hard toothbrushes may actually do more harm than good.


Does size and shape matter?

Toothbrush technology has come a long way, and you can choose from toothbrushes with a variety of bristle types. For example, some toothbrushes bristles feature a cup shape for cleaning around teeth, a diagonal pattern of bristles to clean the sides of the teeth and along the gum line, or mix in a number of longer bristles that can help clean between the teeth. Brush heads are also available in different sizes for different sized mouths and brushing styles. The best toothbrush head for you should allow you easy access to all surfaces of your teeth. For most adults, a toothbrush head half an inch wide and one-inch tall will be the easiest to use and the most effective. Though there are larger toothbrush heads available, you may find that it is difficult to maneuver them to clean certain hard-to-reach areas, such as the sides and backs of your molars. The toothbrush should have a long enough handle so you can comfortably hold it in your hand.



How often should I replace my toothbrush?
You should replace your toothbrush when it begins to show wear, or every three months, whichever comes first. It is also very important to change toothbrushes after you’ve had a cold, since the bristles can collect germs that can lead to reinfection.


Do you have any questions about toothbrush bristles? Call Westermeier Martin Dental care to schedule an appointment with your dentist 716-508-4547.