Friday, February 17, 2012

Still Using a Hard-Bristled Toothbrush??!

One of the biggest things that goes into great oral hygiene is patient education. This week I’ve selected one of my preferred topics to share. This is one of my favorite concepts to discuss because it is so important to the home care routine and the information is still surprising people.
It is normal to assume when thinking toothbrush bristles that harder is better. Is it? No. Using a hard-bristled toothbrush is abrasive to the tooth and the gums.  Let’s get on a smaller level. Harder bristles are stiffer. The stiffer the object in motion the more pressure going on the surface of the tooth and gums. This has shown to remove micro layers of the enamel and gum tissue. Much like a green scratchy pad would remove paint from a car. If you were to remove dirt or dust from your car after getting it wet, would you rather use a sheep skin washcloth or a Brillo pad?? The same goes for your teeth. When brushing twice a day every day, imagine the damage that can be done to your teeth on a microscopic level.

A soft-bristled tooth brush is designed to give your teeth a clean surface without being abrasive. The flexibility of the bristles allow the bristles to clean 2-3 millimeters underneath your gum tissue, rather than just rubbing the top surface , which is harsh for your gums. When using a soft-circular motion at a 45 degree angle, a soft-bristled brush can actually form suction to your gums and pull out plaque below the surface.  A hard bristled brush is not flexible enough to do that so there would be a whole area that got missed brushing.

This final observation is my favorite. Everything that builds up on the surface of your teeth that can be removed by brushing is soft. Yes, soft. Meaning plaque and food could just as easily be removed by something as soft as a cotton ball. What is the point of scrubbing away with a hard brush? Tartar builds up or calcium deposits are meant for a professional to mechanically remove at hygiene appointments and are much too stubborn for any toothbrush to remove.

In conclusion, a toothbrush’s only job is to stimulate the gums and remove soft-deposits. Let your hygienist do the tough work. Your responsibility is the maintenance- The removal of the daily build up with a brush that will get your teeth cleaner, while being nicer.

Annie Lutterman, RDH


  1. When choosing a toothbrush, dental professionals would suggest soft-bristled brushes, preferably those small headed. The purpose is to reach all areas of the mouth. It's not the appearance or the colors of the toothbrush that matter, but its real use in dental hygiene

    Vernell Leider

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