Dentists have long embraced the same toothbrush guidelines for many years. They instruct patients to choose toothbrushes with soft bristles and with heads that fit their mouths well. However, you likely know that those toothbrush aisles are often filled with an overwhelming variety of soft toothbrush designs. Read on to learn what type of toothbrush bristles are best for your teeth and gums and whether you should splurge on those brushes with fancy bristle designs or not. 

Rounded End vs. Tapered Toothbrush Bristles

Scientists recently put two types of toothbrushes to the test to see which cleaned teeth better. The toothbrushes studied were not made of any crazy shapes, but instead just had two different shapes of bristle ends – rounded and tapered. While toothbrush bristles may appear similar, the tips can be very different.

Two groups of people were chosen, and one group was instructed to brush with the rounded-end brushes and one group with the tapered-bristle brushes for a period of a little over two weeks. The people brushed with a slightly abrasive toothpaste for half the period and just water for the other half.

Surprisingly, the rounded-end bristles beat out the tapered ones when the study participants brushed with both water and abrasive toothpaste. After the study, the people who use the rounded-end bristles had less plaque on their teeth. So, if you want cleaner teeth, it may be wise to take notice of the bristle tips of the toothbrushes you buy and choose the rounded ones.

Another Benefit of Rounded-end Bristles

The study was designed to determine not only which toothbrush cleaned teeth better, but also which damaged gums the least. Scientists wanted to determine this because many people press too hard when they brush. Over time, brushing too hard can lead to gum recession, which is irreversible without surgery.

Not only did the rounded bristles remove more plaque, but they also caused less gum abrasion than the tapered ones. Gum abrasion is very important to avoid, because, over time, it can lead to permanent gum recession. While the study did not determine whether the rounded bristles also caused less tooth enamel damage, which can also occur with over-zealous, hard brushing, since the rounded tips damaged gums less, it is easy to see how they would likely damage tooth enamel less in people who brush too hard.

Choosing the Design of your Toothbrush Bristles

Now that you know the benefits of bristles with rounded tips, you likely wonder if you should choose a toothbrush with bristles that are all one length or one of the fancy bristle designs toothbrush manufacturers are always coming up with. There is no shortage of toothbrushes with two or more bristle lengths or zig-zag designs that manufacturers charge a premium price for after claiming they clean teeth better than a basic brush.

While those brushes with fancy bristle designs may catch your eye in the drugstore or grocery store, you will likely be happy to hear that not only do those more affordable basic toothbrushes with all-one-length bristles clean teeth just as well as the fancy brushes, but a study shows that toothbrushes with bristles that are all one length are also better for your tooth enamel.

During a study that compared zig-zag design toothbrushes, bi-level (meaning two lengths of bristles combined) design brushes, and toothbrushes with bristles that were all one length, the one-length bristles did not abrade the surface of the test subjects' teeth as much as the others. Surface abrasion of teeth damages your tooth enamel, which is why you want a brush that cleans your teeth without wearing your important, protective enamel away.

Next time you face the toothbrush aisle and are faced with the seemingly millions of options in brush designs, keep these guidelines in mind. Forget the fancy, pricey brushes and choose a soft brush with rounded tips and all-one-length bristles.

For more information, visit websites like