About soft medium & hard toothbrushes

Updated July 20, 2017

Toothbrushes are used daily to clean teeth, reduce the bacterial film called plaque and maintain the health of gum tissue. They are available with soft, medium or hard bristles and made of different materials. Toothbrushes are also available as either disposable or electric models. How you use a toothbrush can impact the style you choose.

Types of Bristles

One important factor in a toothbrush is the hardness of its bristles. Most toothbrushes are available in extra soft, soft, medium and hard bristle varieties. According to Dr. Daniel T. Quevedo of Sweet Water Wekiva Springs Magazine, soft bristles are the best, as they are more comfortable in the mouth. While some people believe that medium and hard bristles can clean teeth better, they can actually do more damage to the gum tissue, teeth and tooth enamel. Long-term use of medium and hard brushes can result in gum recession and damage of the surface of the root of the tooth. Gum recession can lead to tooth sensitivity.

Toothbrush Heads

The size of the toothbrush head is important as it determines whether or not a toothbrush can get at hard-to-reach spots. Compact heads are ideal for people with smaller mouths, such as women and teenagers. A full brush size suits most adults with average to large-sized mouths. According to WebMD, most adults can use a brush head that is a half-inch wide and 1 inch tall. If a brush head is too large, it will not effectively reach the back molars or other difficult spots. The more rows of bristles there are, the more efficient the brush will be.

Bristle Material

Most manufacturers produce toothbrush heads using polished nylon bristles that may be rounded or softened. Some brushes are made with polyester bristles. Toothbrushes are also available with natural bristles, but they are typically not used because of their tendency to retain bacteria more so than synthetic brushes, and their tendency to lose bristles more easily.

Disposable or Electric?

Consumers can choose from disposable or electric models of toothbrushes. According to WebMD, a review of 30 studies found that there was not a large difference between the styles in their ability to eliminate plaque. Keep in mind that electric models cost more initially than manual brushes, and you will need to replace the head regularly. If you brush vigorously, the electric model may be the gentler option, particularly if it has a soft head. If a model has the American Dental Association seal of approval, this ensures that manual brushes are durable, the bristles have safe tips and will not fall out easily, and it will reduce plaque build-up and gum disease early on. The seal also ensures powered models undergo testing in an independent lab setting to ensure safety.

How to Use a Toothbrush

Use a soft bristle brush lightly while brushing teeth. This will effectively remove the plaque. Brush at least twice a day, after meals and snacks, for two minutes at a time. Make sure to brush downward on upper teeth, away from the gum line, and upward on the lower teeth. Hold the brush at a 45 degree angle to the teeth and brush in small circular motions. Make sure to brush the chewing surfaces and inside of the teeth, and brush the tongue for fresher breath and to eliminate bacteria.

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About the Author

Based in New Hamburg, Ontario, Mary Margaret Peralta has been writing for websites since 2010. She has developed a company website and a health and safety manual for a past employer. Peralta obtained her Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario.