Surprisingly, when asked, a significant number of our patients indicate that they use either a medium or hard-bristle toothbrush. When asked why, most people reply that they believe that a medium or hard-bristle brush does a better job of cleaning their teeth.
That may be true when we’re talking about cleaning your floor or windows, but not when we’re talking about cleaning your teeth. Using a medium or hard bristled toothbrush is like using a scouring pad on your gums and teeth. You can literally “scrub” away your teeth and gums.
Long-term use of medium or hard bristle toothbrushes can cause the gums to recede and can even wear away tooth structure. Once the gums have receeded, tooth sensitivity to hot, cold and to touch is more common. The exposed root surface is not as strong as the enamel surface of the tooth leaving it more prone to acid attacks and decay.
The reason many people feel a soft bristle brush doesn’t clean their teeth as well is that they are using too much pressure when brushing. People mistakenly believe that the harder they brush, the more effective they will be in removing the plaque. However, the bristles are soft, and excessive force causes the bristles to splay outward. This means the teeth are being brushed with the sides of each bristle, which don’t clean very well at all! It is the ends of each bristle that need to remain in contact with the tooth. So a light touch with a soft-bristle toothbrush will allow the bristles to get into the “nooks and crannies” and remove the plaque, without damaging the teeth and gums.
1. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush.
2. Use a light touch. Remember, you’re just trying to remove the “soft stuff.”
3. If you notice the bristles splaying out, lighten up on how hard you’re pressing down with the brush.
4. Angle the bristles towards the gum line at about a 45-degree angle and use short circular strokes for a little bit, and then brush down (away from the gums) for upper teeth. For the lower teeth, it’s just the reverse – short circular strokes then brush up away from the gums.
5. Get your teeth professionally cleaned on a regular basis so you’re not feeling that tartar on your teeth!