Toothbrushes: Soft, Medium, Hard

By “Soft, Medium, Hard”, I mean the bristles.

I’ve heard people say that you should use a soft bristled brush so it doesn’t cut up your gums. But I’ve heard other people say that you should use a harder bristle for better cleaning of your teeth, and your gums will just naturally strengthen.

So which is the best bristle to use?

Coincidentally enough, just today I had to throw away a toothbrush which I bought not realising it was a soft brush. It was like brushing my teeth with a feather. I can’t believe it could have been very good at cleaning.

The hard (actually it’s described as “firm”) brush I bought instead feels much more effective, for whatever that’s worth.

I think what you need to use varies with your teeth and gums.

When I started seeing my dentist 8 years ago my gums were perfect (less than 3mm pockets). The dentist insisted I switch to an extra soft tooth brush instead of the medium I had been using. Over the next several years my gum pockets started growing. About 2 years ago I had many at 5mm and the dentist was talking about doing a deep clean (which apparently is painfull) when they got to 6mm.

Instead I went against the dentist and switched back to a medium brush. Over the last 2 years all the 5mm pockets are down to 4mm and most the 4mm are gone.

So for me a medium is required. No one size fits all, I guess.


My dentist recommends a medium toothbrush, so that is what I use. Works for me, but perhaps different strokes for different folks.

I can’t stand soft bristles … I like what Ruadh said, “It’s like brushing my teeth with a feather.”

With all the gunk I manage to get into, I want MAXIMUM ABRASION, BABY!!!

And if my gums don’t like it, then let them bleed to someone who gives a rat’s behind…

My stepdad’s dentist insisted on medium brushes.

A new SOFT brush irritates my gums. And yes, I do brush regularly, and no I’ve never been diagnosed with gum disease. The thought of using a medium or hard is deeply unpleasant. I guess some people are more sensitive than others.

I was told that the hard brushes can actually damage the tooth enamel… it wasn’t the gums that were the concern.

Hard brushes damage the gums over the long haul. Always use a soft brush, or down the road you will need a sealant over your gums. And the sealant doesn’t last forever, 15-20 years.

If you have pockets 4 or 5 mm., get them cleaned out and start using soft brushes. At 5 mm is the limit in which dentists will insist on a gingivectomy. 4mm is not good. There should not be any pocket, but 1 or 2 mm is acceptable.

I was told by dentists to use a soft brush, but floss.
(well back then, I dont need to floss now, i have only 5 teeth with spaces between)

I would say a medium or hard brush would be the best option for cleaning your teeth.

Soft bristles would bend on contact with your teeth so you’d only be brushing your teeth with the sides of the bristles which would be pointless.

I don’t think the firmness of bristles is what damages your gums or teeth so much as the pressure applied when brushing.
Most people use too much pressure which is abrasive to gums and teeth. I guess the firmer the bristles the less pressure you need to use.

Best option is to use an electric toothbrush and to floss. I changed to electric 6 months ago and the difference is amazing and instant.

Failing that, to use less pressure, hold your brush closer to the end (furthest from the bristles).

Well that’s it for my first ever post on a message board!!

All the dentists I have ever had have said to use soft brushes.

My old dentist retired and a new one bought his practice. The new dentist finally persuaded me to brush at night and floss. I was using a soft brush. However, I still had a lot of plaque and the hygenist had to pick at it quite a bit which was not pleasant. The dentist said my gums were in mediocre shape, possibly heading for gingivitis. He switched me to the Oral-B cross-action brush which I think has relatively hard bristles. My gums are in excellent shape for the first time in years and the hygenist only has to pick at plaque in one or two spots at most.

I’ve visited a variety of denists over the years due to frequent moving. I’ve also had orthidonture work (specifically braces, possibly the most diffiicult things to clean ever), and every denist I’ve had has insisted on a SOFT brush.

One thing to remember: Companies can sell whatever hasn’t been proven to directly cause harm. Just look at all the stain-removing cleaners that don’t do jack. So long as it doesn’t peel the skin off your fingers, they can say just about anything.
So, just because it’s on the shelves doesn’t mean it’s fine to use. I think the three stiffnesses of bristles are offered to placate the public.

Best Wishes.

My dentist (a veteran of the profession) heartily recommends a soft brush. The ADA agrees with him:

Brushing isn’t enough. You should also floss your teeth each evening after dinner. This prevents bacteria from starting the decay process. And, brush with the toothbrush of your choice following the flossing. Be sure to brush after each meal. All this from my dentist.

IANA dentist, but I have worked with them a LOT, and basically medium to hard brushes will strip away the enamel on your teeth. You should only use a soft brush. To be honest, I have no idea why they still sell anything other than soft…

Just the other day during an ethnographic study (I’m probably breaking ethical clearance here, but what the hell) there was a guy in who was about 50 and had used hard brushes his whole life… basically there was no enamel left at all and his teeth were screwed. At that point dentists recommend getting an electric toothbrush with a soft head and then just using the oscillations on individual teeth, with no brushing at all.

My dentist recommends medium bristles. I have always used medium bristles and have never had any problems with them. When my childrens’ teeth first came in, my SO and I used soft bristled brushes until they got used to brushing, then we switched to medium bristles and we’ve used them ever since.

Right, so still no answer to that question…

Soft brushes are the answer. Along with flossing twice a day.