Toothbrush Bristles: Soft vs. Medium vs. Hard
You’re standing in front of a wall of toothbrushes at the store or, perhaps more likely, you’re staring at a long page of toothbrush options online. Why are there so many options? And which toothbrush is best?
One of the first category distinctions that stands out, and one of the most important, is the type of toothbrush bristle: extra-soft, soft, medium-soft, medium, and hard. That’s a lot of toothbrush bristles, so which one should you get? An explanation of each kind and a comparison of your best options will help you find the toothbrush for you.
Hard toothbrush bristles
You won’t come across many options for hard bristle toothbrushes (also sometimes labeled as “firm” bristles) in stores, or even on most retail sites. These bristles are very stiff and can even be painful to use.
Hard bristle toothbrushes are effective for stain removal—if used carefully and in moderation. They can also be very helpful for cleaning dentures.
It’s a common misconception, though, that hard bristles are best, because they scrub hardest. Firm toothbrushes are so hard that they actually tear into gums and often damage tooth enamel.
Medium toothbrush bristles
Medium, or medium-soft, toothbrush bristles really are a happy medium between soft and hard bristles. They are stiff enough for an aggressive clean, but are not as threatening to the gums as a hard toothbrush.
Medium bristle toothbrushes can be decent options for everyday brushing, if used correctly. Although they are softer than hard bristle brushes, they can be hard on gums if used consistently for a long time.
Additionally, aggressive brushing with a medium toothbrush can still easily damage tooth enamel. Another common misconception about dental care is that pressing the toothbrush hard against teeth cleans teeth better, but this isn’t true. Aggressive brushing actually just causes unnecessary damage to gums and tooth enamel.
Soft toothbrush bristles
Most people prefer the comfort of a soft bristle toothbrush. Soft bristles are gentle on gums, which is especially important for children, seniors, and anyone with sensitive teeth and gums.
But are soft bristled toothbrushes effective? The short answer is yes. Studies continue to show that soft bristled toothbrushes clean teeth as well as medium toothbrushes, but with less damage to enamel and the gumline.
Which toothbrush is best? Soft vs. medium toothbrushes
So which toothbrush is best? The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends soft bristle toothbrushes for daily use. Soft toothbrushes have the same cleaning power as medium toothbrushes, and are less likely to cause damage to tooth enamel and/or gums.
Good oral hygiene uses a toothbrush to gently buff teeth clean. Your toothbrush shouldn’t be used to scrape teeth clean. Floss is the best tool for scraping the gunk out.
Today, there are better options than ever for soft bristle toothbrushes.
Best soft bristle toothbrush: The Micro-Nano toothbrush
New 10,000 bristle toothbrushes—also referred to as ultra-soft, micro, or micro-nano toothbrushes—are the latest advancement in toothbrush technology. Micro-nano toothbrushes maximize all the advantages of soft bristle toothbrushes, and are especially good for people with sensitive gums.
The average toothbrush has 2,500 bristles, which makes the Micro-Nano 300% denser than your normal toothbrush. The ultra soft toothbrush, then:
- Cleans better, because there are no gaps between bristles. More contact = a better clean.
- Cleans more gently, because the head is much softer than most toothbrushes.
Research has demonstrated that ultra soft toothbrushes match the cleaning capabilities of a regular soft toothbrush, with less damage to enamel. One study, for example, concluded, that ultra-soft tooth-brushes match the plaque removing ability of soft tooth-brushes and reduce tooth abrasivity to minimize tooth damage.
The concentration of 10,000 bristles has the dual effect of creating a softer brush with increased surface area contact for a gentle, thorough clean.
Choosing the right toothbrush
One of the first considerations when choosing the right toothbrush is which bristles you want.
If you need an effective tool for removing stains, a medium toothbrush can be a great option. Medium bristles are effective for cleaning, but can be hard on gums and tooth enamel, especially in the long-term.
If you need a daily toothbrush, most dental professionals recommend soft bristle toothbrushes, and Micro-Nano toothbrushes are the best kind of soft toothbrush.
You will also want to consider the material your toothbrush is made of. Good dental hygiene requires a new toothbrush every three months, so be sure to look for a brush made of a more sustainable resource than plastic.When you’re ready to start comparing options for 10,000-bristle toothbrushes, have a look at our Micro-Nano: extra-soft bristles on an organic bamboo handle. Additionally, we’re partnering with Heart of Dinner to donate one toothbrush for every purchase made on our site.