Most people don't put enough thought to picking out a toothbrush. When you pick a toothbrush based on the brand, colour or look, you are not considering what is arguably the most important factor. Bristle strength should be one of your top considerations. The common notion to pick a hard brush simply because it cleans more thoroughly is highly misleading. In fact, the opposite is true. As a general rule, most dentists would recommend a soft bristled toothbrush,1 and for good reasons.
The toothbrush is already abrasive to your tooth enamel – the protective outer layer of your teeth – so you should avoid scrubbing too hard lest you damage your teeth and gums.2 According to the Wall Street Journal, up to 20% of Americans have damaged their teeth due to over-brushing.2
Let’s take a look at the two main reasons why soft brushes will serve your dental needs better:
While it may be true that, to an extent, hard bristles are great at removing plaque and stain, they also wear down the enamel layer of your teeth. As the protective layer of your pearlies, the enamel plays a critical role in protecting your teeth from harmful bacteria. Constant abrasive action by a hard bristled toothbrush tends to wear your teeth down faster than a soft brush.2 The good news is, a good soft toothbrush cleans just as effectively as tooth brushes with harder bristles.3 Even a toothbrush manufacturer like Colgate – that produces toothbrushes of a range of bristle strength – recommends soft bristled toothbrushes even though harder bristles remove “slightly more plaque” than soft-bristled brushes.1 Some dentists recommend only using toothbrushes with rounded and tufted fibre ends.4
The type of toothbrush is not the only factor to consider for effective cleaning. The brushing technique you employ is just as important. Firstly, it is important to understand that vigorous brushing isn’t necessary to remove plaque.2 Instead, you should use gentle pressure throughout the brushing process, angle your toothbrush bristles toward the gum line, and brush in circular strokes to achieve effective plaque removal.
By taking the time and effort to clean each quadrant of the mouth carefully, it’s a good way to make sure you remove plaque, bacteria, and food particles.1 Ideally, the hand pressure of the brush should press lightly against the teeth – just enough to lightly fray the bristle against the teeth. Unless you want your teeth to suffer from notching, or what is known formally as Tooth Brush Abrasion (TBA), you should never drag the toothbrush back and forth in a sawing motion.4
Besides harming your enamel, hard bristled toothbrushes can also damage your gums and eventually cause them to recede.3 When your gums recede and the root surface of the tooth is exposed, you are effectively rendered more prone to teeth sensitivity and developing cavities in these areas.3 Gums that are too thin cannot withstand the abuse of overbrushing by a standard toothbrush.5 Gum recession is usually a permanent condition that requires dental surgery as a remedy.5 Gum recession can worsen to the point when you may actually risk permanent tooth loss.3
Instead of using hard bristled toothbrush, you can opt for soft-bristled toothbrushes – like the Periclean Ultra-Soft Cleaner – that have been specially developed to remove plaque from teeth, while offering greater protection for tooth enamel and gums.5
If you’re worried about any dental related problem or simply want to have a check-up, please contact Sydney CBD Dental at (02) 9232 3900.