When it comes to taking care of our teeth, the seemingly small details are what truly make the difference. Details such as: exactly how long we brush, how frequently we floss, and even what type of bristles our toothbrush is made of.
There are so many options in this day and age, from regular toothbrushes to electric toothbrushes, and even toothbrushes which use sonic pulsations. But, which toothbrush you use may not matter so much as how soft or firm their bristles are.
So, Which Bristle Is Best?
When it comes down to oral health, soft-bristled toothbrushes are the way to go. The Canadian Dental Association recommends a soft-bristled brush for best results, as does the American Dental Association. But why?
It may seem slightly counter-intuitive at first glance. Wouldn’t a medium or firm-bristled brush do a better job of removing food and plaque? When we wash our dishes, a scrub brush made of course material usually does a better job at removing left-overs than a soft sponge would. But, when using pots or pans with a special, non-stick finish, it’s best to use a softer material so as not to remove this essential layer. You could think of our teeth in much the same way.
Our Teeth: Enamel & Dentin
The composition of our teeth includes an incredibly hard material called enamel. Tooth enamel is the hardest substance (with the highest concentration of minerals) in the human body. Enamel is responsible for protecting our teeth from damage when we eat. Though incredibly strong, it is also quite brittle, and when enamel erodes it can cause serious risks. If you’ve ever had a toothache, you might appreciate your tooth enamel a bit more.
When enamel is damaged or worn away, it leaves another key part of our teeth, the dentin, exposed. When this happens, the nerves in our teeth are immediately stimulated by the triggers that enamel would normally prevent from reaching the dentin. Once dentin is exposed, things that you may have taken for granted, like eating ice cream or hot soup, become painful.
Where Brush Bristles Come In
Why Soft Bristles Are Better…
As our understanding of oral health increases, so do the professional recommendations of soft-bristled brushes. This is because less abrasive bristles have a better long-term effect when it comes to oral health.
Softer brushes are effective in removing plaque and other debris from our teeth, but not abrasive enough to cause erosion to the enamel. The filaments, or bristles, now found on most toothbrush heads err more and more to the softer side. In fact, it’s become increasingly difficult to find a hard-bristled toothbrush as they are no longer as popular to sell.
… And Hard Bristles Are Not
Using hard bristles will wear away at the enamel of your teeth much faster in the long term. If you use a toothbrush with hard or even medium-firm bristles, depending on the strength of your enamel, you may find yourself experiencing:
- Increased tooth sensitivity
- Receding gum lines
- Higher risk of cavities and other dental health issues
All of the above are a result of toothbrush abrasion. If you are brushing your teeth at least twice a day as recommended, your enamel is being scrubbed on a very frequent basis. Though this removes plaque, it could eventually cause erosion when using the wrong toothbrush.
Another factor that may increase the rate of enamel erosion is the amount of pressure used while brushing: it’s best not to brush too hard, regardless of whether your toothbrush is manual or electric.
Stay Firm With Your Dental Routine, Not Your Toothbrush
We are all unique in our health requirements, so do your research and figure out what works best for you. Your dental team will have the best perspective on how you can achieve and maintain optimal oral health.
When it comes to your well-being, do not follow generalizations or advice without consulting a professional who has appropriate training. Ask your dentist about toothbrush abrasion and the benefits of a soft-bristled brush at your next appointment.