If you prefer to use a toothbrush with hard bristles, you may like the fact that this kind of brush gives you the daily equivalent of a deep clean when you brush your teeth. While you may be proud that you're taking good care of your teeth, you may be surprised if your dentist tells you during a check-up that you should switch to using a softer toothbrush. Why doesn't your dentist like hard bristles, and do you really have to switch to a brush that takes a more softly-softly approach?
Hard Bristles May Damage Your Teeth and Gums
Dentists may recommend switching from hard to soft bristles because they are concerned that hard bristles may damage your teeth and gums. While a hard-bristled toothbrush may have more 'oomph' when it comes to getting your teeth really clean, the extra hardness of the bristles here may also contribute to the erosion of dental enamel and gum recession. For example, hard bristles are generally considered to contribute to non-carious cervical lesions, which are slight erosions of the enamel that aren't bad enough to cause a tooth cavity. This may not be a significant problem initially; however, any erosion can get worse over time and, once you lose enamel, you can't get it back. So, your dentist may be recommending a switch to softer bristles to avoid more serious problems down the line.
Do You Have to Change to Softer Bristles?
Your dentist can't force you to use a soft-bristled toothbrush, but you should consider why your dentist is recommending that you do. If, for example, your dentist can see some kind of damage already, then switching should be a no-brainer. After all, you don't want to damage your teeth.
In some cases, your problem may not be the type of bristle you use but the way you use your toothbrush to clean your teeth and gums. If technique is the root of your problem, then you can ask your dentist to give you guidance on what you are doing wrong when you brush and how you should brush correctly. For example, you may be brushing too hard or may be angling the brush head incorrectly so that your brush irritates and damages your gum line. Your dentist may be less worried about you using a hard-bristled brush if you use it better.
Tip: If you do decide to switch to a softer bristle, you may get frustrated, at least initially, if you feel that the brush doesn't leave your teeth feeling as clean as a hard-bristled brush did. Typically, you'll get used to this over time. Again, it may be worth discussing brushing techniques with your dentist to make sure you're using your brush as effectively as possible; it's also worth checking if you need a regular clean and polish at the surgery to mop up stubborn areas of plaque or tartar that might build up on your teeth once your stop using a hard-bristled brush.
Contact a dentist to learn about dental services that could help if you're experiencing dental problems after using a hard-bristled toothbrush.