At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.
A hard toothbrush is a particular implement used for brushing teeth. Like most toothbrushes, it generally has a durable, plastic handle, while the tip of the brush has a series of nylon bristles designed to hold the toothpaste and scrub the teeth. The bristles on a hard toothbrush, although somewhat flexible, are generally tough and rigid. These types of toothbrushes come in a variety of sizes and shapes, and most stores that sell health and beauty supplies carry them.
Generally, toothbrushes are either rated as soft, medium, or hard. The ratings refer to the strength and flexibility of the bristles on the head of the brush. As the names suggest, soft brushes have very pliable, gentle bristles, while medium brushes have bristles that are a little stiffer. Sometimes called a firm toothbrush, the hard toothbrush has the most resistant and sturdy bristles. They will bend, considering that they are made of nylon but are extremely stiff and resilient when compared to the bristles on a soft or medium brush.
Due to the firmness of the bristles, a hard toothbrush is usually only recommended for individuals who have strong, healthy teeth and gums. It is definitely not recommended for children or for those who have sensitive teeth. In those instances, a hard toothbrush might irritate or injure the gums or exacerbate tooth pain and sensitivity.
Many dentists today recommend soft to medium toothbrushes rather than hard brushes for their patients. The reasoning behind this stems from the fact that most tooth decay occurs in hard-to-reach places, especially in the back molars. Soft bristles are flexible enough to squeeze into the crevices and crannies that might otherwise be missed by less pliable bristles. Further, soft bristles are more comfortable to use along the gumline and can effectively remove tarter-causing plaque without irritating or injuring the gums like stiff bristles might tend to do.
Still, quite a few people feel that a hard toothbrush removes food particles and plaque more efficiently than soft brushes, giving them the sensation that their mouths and teeth are genuinely clean. Despite fears that the firm bristles might actually strip the enamel from the teeth when used too vigorously, evidence suggests that hard toothbrushes only have a slight effect, if any, on enamel erosion. In fact, drinking acidic or carbonated beverages causes a higher degree of tooth enamel erosion than brushing with a hard toothbrush.
As is true of most toothbrushes, hard toothbrushes are available in different shapes and sizes. Some have heads that are angled or tapered. Others have bristles that vary in height, a design intended to help users reach the spaces in between teeth. Due to the increasing belief among dentists and other oral hygiene professionals that soft bristles are better to use than firm bristles, hard toothbrushes have become less popular and more difficult to find.