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Soft or Hard Bristled Toothbrush: Which Is Better?

Since its invention in the late 1930’s, the toothbrush has become a common household item to help people achieve better dental health. More specifically, a toothbrush is an oral hygiene instrument used to clean the teeth, cheeks, and tongue so that food debris and harmful bacteria won’t linger in the mouth.


Toothbrushing is the most basic oral care procedure we know of. While there are still challenges for the humble toothbrush like getting at those hard-to-reach areas, it is still the most recommended dental procedure to help prevent cavities and plaque build-up.


Through years of using your toothbrush, you may have noticed that there are different types of bristles based on the way they feel on your mouth. Bristles are rated according to their firmness–soft, medium, or hard.


Now that we’re talking about the parts of a toothbrush, have you ever wondered how one is made and what materials are used to manufacture it?


What makes a toothbrush a toothbrush?


Modern day toothbrushes make use of a nylon or nylon-polyester combination in their filaments. When the first nylon-bristled toothbrush was introduced and mass produced in 1938, only hard-bristled ones were made available. Since that time, several innovations had improved the performance of the toothbrush.


Several toothbrush manufacturing companies had changed the bristle formation from the usual straight surface to contoured ones to help clean those hard to reach areas better. Bristles shaped to follow the slopes of the average teeth help in hard to remove food particles. Although toothbrushes are not meant to be an interdental cleaner, bristles with uneven surfaces do a pretty good job in giving you a generally cleaner mouth.


Talking About Toothbrush Bristles


Toothbrush efficiency is not something that you should take for granted. Because of the number of things you do with your mouth daily such as talking and eating, it is believed that your mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria. If you fail to brush in a day, a gelatinous film forms over your teeth and gums. This is the start of plaque formation that could later on form tartar. Tartar is basically made up of calcified saliva minerals which form where the teeth and gums meet. It forms much faster if you don’t brush your teeth regularly.


As we’ve already discussed, bristles come in soft, medium, or hard. Many people prefer hard and medium toothbrushes because their teeth “feel cleaner” after using them. Because of the intensity and impact of hard and medium bristled toothbrushes, they may give you a fresher, cleaner feel especially when menthol toothpaste is used. It has not been proven, however, if medium and hard bristled toothbrushes really do a better job of cleaning those hard to reach areas of your mouth.


There is some potential harm that a medium or hard bristled toothbrush can bring to your teeth and gums. Watch out for these possible effects:


  • Tooth Enamel Erosion


Over brushing can wear off your tooth enamel easily. The enamel is your teeth’s natural protection which preserves the external structure of your teeth. If the enamel wears off, you’re confronted with two new problems: yellowish and brittle teeth. The most sensitive part of your teeth is covered by your tooth enamel. The tiny nerves found in the tooth root may be exposed once it is damaged.


  • Gum Bleeding


Most individuals tend to push their toothbrushes a little too hard against their gum lines. When you’re using a hard-bristled toothbrush and brush aggressively, there’s a great chance that you will have a problem with bleeding gums. Bleeding gums is a sign of damage and of gum pockets getting deeper. The continued use of hard or medium bristles despite the bleeding will only make the situation worse. Remember that if your gum pockets grow deeper, premature gum recession and infection may also occur.


The Safe Choice


Majority of dentists recommends the soft-bristled toothbrush simply because it is gentler to use on the dental area. Your saliva and tooth enamel are there for a reason, which is to protect your teeth from unwanted bacteria. Wearing them off with aggressive brushing and hard bristles will only cause damage to your dental health.


Soft bristled toothbrushes are still made of nylon, but are made of thinner strands. Because they feel natural against your teeth and gums, the latter is less likely to bleed or incur damage. Along with excellent toothbrush ergonomics, you’ll be able to clean your teeth as efficiently as possible.


Some people still refuse to use a soft bristled toothbrush because they think these don’t clean as effectively. The truth is, true cleanliness lies in the way you maneuver your toothbrush while you brush, how often you brush in a day, and the kind of diet that you have. Most of us overlook these factors and resort to hard-bristled toothbrushes or aggressive brushing right away. We need to consider how sensitive our dental area is, and if using hard materials to clean them is really a good idea to achieve our optimum dental health.


To ensure that you get the right toothbrush for your specific needs, you’ll need to consult with your dentist. If in Raleigh, NC, reach out to us at VPreston Dental and we’ll make sure that you get the right info you need!