Proper brushing is the most important step in the oral care process. Nylon bristle toothbrushes were created by DuPont in the 1930s and are still used today. 8 decades later, there are a wide variety of toothbrush brands and types on the market that can make it difficult to choose. You can choose between soft, medium and hard bristles. Toothbrushes also can be manual or electric. Most dentist recommend soft bristles, but it is best to check with your dentist to see what type is best for you.

Soft Bristles

The most commonly recommended and used variety, soft bristle toothbrushes pose the least threat to damaging tooth enamel and gums. Some people who have sensitive teeth or other issues may have to use an extra soft tooth brush to prevent bleeding or other issues. Professionals agree that soft toothbrushes do the best job of removing plaque and debris. A popular misconception is that a harder brush cleans better, but it is simply not true. Any minimal gains in cleaning will be wiped away by the damage caused by hard bristles.

Medium Bristles

Toothbrushes with medium bristles basically fall in the middle of stiffness between soft and hard. Medium brushes don’t clean any better than soft and studies have shown they damage tooth enamel and the gum line. Even though its softer than a hard brush, dentist still don’t typically recommend them.

Hard Bristles

Hard bristle toothbrushes are slowly being phased out because studies have shown that they do more harm than good and simply don’t have a place in oral care. There really isn’t any situation where a dentist would recommend a hard brush. People use them by personal choice because they think that harder equates to cleaner teeth. This may be true for scouring pads to clean a sink, but not for your teeth. Hard bristles damage the gums and tooth enamel.

Powered Brushes

A popular misconception is that powered brushes clean better than a manual brush, but this simply isn’t true. A powered brush may make cleaning your teeth easier and help motivate you to clean them more often for the required time limit. If using a powered brush, it’s still important to use soft bristles. These brushes are ideal for people with certain diseases such as arthritis, wear braces or have uneven teeth that are difficult to clean with a manual brush.

Toothbrush Size

The ideal size will be different for each person. It is best to check with your dentist for the right size. In general, you want a toothbrush that can comfortably fit in your mouth and hand. The normal head size for adults is 1″ long and 1/2″ wide. It should be able to at least brush one to two teeth at a time. You also want a brush that can easily get into tight spots.

In closing, while these guidelines can be helpful to follow, everyone’s dental needs are different. It is important to check with your dentist to get the best brush for you. Even with an optimal and consistent brushing routine, having a professional clean your teeth is still important from time to time.

Featured image: “Toothy Towers” by jeff_golden, used under CC BY-SA / Lightened from original