What Is a Firm Toothbrush?

Soft, not firm, bristles are recommended for most people.
A firm toothbrush can damage the gums and enamel if not used correctly.
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  • Written By: Grayson Millar
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 17 March 2014
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A toothbrush is a small brush used for cleaning, or brushing, the teeth. The length of a toothbrush is essential for proper dental hygiene, as it allows the user to reach areas of his or her mouth that are difficult to access without its use. As opposed to a soft toothbrush, a firm toothbrush features stiff, resistant bristles that apply more pressure to the teeth and gums. Consequently, a firm toothbrush is often advised against by dental professionals owing to the abrasive potential of the harder bristles.

Most toothbrushes are composed of bristles grouped together that are positioned on a smaller extended portion of a longer, thicker handle. There are a wide variety of toothbrushes available that feature bristles of different levels of stiffness. Bristles also vary in terms of size, density, and purpose. Within a single toothbrush, two or more types of bristles may be positioned next to one another to utilize the capabilities of both.


A firm toothbrush has the stiffest, most resistant bristles, and the order of stiffness descends from firm to medium and to soft and extra soft. The strong, resistant bristles of a firm toothbrush may be abrasive, and regular use can cause damage to the sensitive gums and tooth enamel. As a result, most dentists recommend the use of toothbrushes with soft bristles. However, in certain cases use of a firm toothbrush may be suggested for those with strong tooth enamel and healthy gums or to temporarily aid in the cure of certain dental conditions. In general, a soft toothbrush is recommended by the majority of dentists unless they specifically suggest otherwise during consultation.

As with other grades of bristles, firm bristles are available in most of the varied types of toothbrushes produced. Widely manufactured disposable toothbrushes are ordinarily sold in models that feature each of the levels of bristle firmness: firm, medium, and soft, as well as extra soft in many cases. Higher grade rechargeable or electric toothbrushes will often provide a spectrum of changeable heads, which generally includes at least a few different bristle strengths. A battery-operated toothbrush, available widely in stores, is usually packaged with only one changeable head and consequently only one density of bristles. The manufacturers of these models, however, ordinarily produce replacement heads for purchase that allow users to switch between soft and firm bristles.


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