The practice of brushing teeth has been around in one form or another for almost 5000 years. According to the ADA (American Dental Association) there is evidence that ancient peoples used a “chew stick” – a twig with a frayed end rubbed against the teeth to remove food residue and particles. Over the millennia the evolution of toothbrushes advanced to the use of bone, wood, and ivory handles adorned with the bristles of boar, hogs, and other animals. Finally, in 1938, DuPont introduced the first nylon-bristled brush, Doctor West’s Miracle Toothbrush.
The ADA (American Dental Association) recommends brushing your teeth at least twice a day, plus cleaning between teeth with ADA approved dental floss or floss picks. But it isn’t just brushing that matters. The kind of brush you use matters, both in the short run for comfort and oral health, and in the long run for the safety and preservation of your teeth.
There are a few things you should look for – and look to avoid – when deciding on a toothbrush. So which brushes should you pass by on your hunt for the perfect one?
1.Toothbrushes with medium or hard bristles.
This is the most important thing to stay away from. The ADA recommends soft bristles for 9 out of 10 people. The only circumstance under which a harder bristle is recommended is for those with motor skill challenges such as poor manual dexterity, or for those with joint health issues that would prevent them from holding the brush properly and applying the right amount of pressure.
Why should you avoid these harder bristles? It would seem to make sense that the firmer the brush, the better your teeth will be cleaned. The truth is that even though they may give your teeth a thorough scrubbing, medium and hard toothbrushes can damage your teeth and gums. According to an article in the WSJ (Wall Street Journal) between 10 and 20 percent of Americans have experienced damage to their oral health due to brushing too hard. You may wonder why these damaging stiffer brushes are even sold. The answer is simple
as long as people buy a product, companies will produce it.
While medium and hard bristles may be good at aggressively removing stains and plaque, at the same time they are wearing down a very important part of your teeth – the enamel. Tooth enamel is the white outer layer that protects the inner parts of your teeth. It protects them from pain, bacteria, and other problems, so you want to retain as much of it throughout your life as possible. Wearing down your enamel can cause unpleasant symptoms such as yellowing, rough tooth edges, and sensitivity to hot, cold, and sweet foods and beverages. A soft brush is just as effective at keeping teeth clean, without causing this harm to enamel.