Brushing Hard Is Not the Same As Brushing Thoroughly
You cannot overestimate the importance of good oral hygiene – not only for dental health, but for your overall wellbeing. In fact, gum disease is a major risk factor for the development of serious health conditions, including heart disease and diabetes.
From the time we are young, we are taught that using a toothbrush regularly is one of the best ways to keep our teeth and gums healthy. But which toothbrush is best? When toothbrushes with nylon bristles were first invented in the 1930’s, people didn’t have many options. Today is a totally different story! Most stores that sell oral hygiene products have an extensive collection of different types of toothbrushes on their shelves, including manual (disposable) and powered (electric) options.
A vigorous scrubbing may seem like it would it result in the cleanest possible teeth, but the reality is that your gums and enamel need to be treated with care. Although usually done with good intentions, brushing your teeth with bristles that are too hard can be detrimental to your oral health.
General Tips for Choosing a Toothbrush
There are certain characteristics that you should look for in whatever toothbrush you choose, regardless of whether it is manual or powered.
The best toothbrush head for you should allow you to easily reach all surfaces of your teeth. For most adults, a toothbrush head one half-inch wide and one-inch tall will be the easiest to use and the most effective. Though there are larger toothbrush heads available, you may find that it is difficult to maneuver them to clean certain hard-to-reach areas, such as the sides and backs of your molars. The toothbrush should have a long enough handle so you can comfortably hold it in your hand.
If you go to the drug store to purchase a manual toothbrush or a replacement head for your electric toothbrush, you will be able to select a toothbrush with soft, medium, or hard nylon bristles. For the vast majority of people, a soft-bristled toothbrush will be the most comfortable and safest choice.
Depending on how vigorously you brush your teeth and the strength of your teeth, medium- and hard-bristled brushes can actually damage the gums, root surface, and tooth enamel. Soft-bristled toothbrush are plenty effective at cleaning plaque and debris from your teeth, while still being gentle on the gums and enamel. For even more tooth protection when you brush, be sure the bristles on the toothbrush you select have rounded tips.
A soft-bristled bush cleans just as thoroughly as any other brush and can remove plaque along the gum line if you brush properly, with small, gentle, circular motions at a 45-degree angle. Take your time being gentle and thorough for the full two minutes. Brushing vigorously or with hard bristles does not make up for a lack of time spent brushing your teeth. The average person only brushes for about 45 seconds…far short of the recommended two minutes.
To ensure your toothbrush has undergone rigorous quality control tests for cleaning effectiveness and safety, ask your dentist for a recommendation. Or look for manual or powered toothbrushes that have earned the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance.