What Are Toothbrush Bristles Made of?

By Rachel Lucio

Materials used to manufacture toothbrush bristles vary. From a natural brush, resembling models and materials not far removed from the very first brushes made, to new high-tech materials, polished to smooth sleek perfection, there is a brush out there for every individual.

Natural Bristles

Toothbrushes were originally made of bamboo and bone handles, and incorporated bristles made of either Siberian boar's hair or horse hair. Though relatively effective for cleaning purposes, they had their disadvantages. Animal hair brushes fell short not only on a hygienic level, as they can retain bacteria, but they also tended to dry more slowly than more contemporary materials. Also, due to a less refined manufacturing process, the bristles would often fall out of the brush.

Nylon Bristles

Modern toothbrushes are typically outfitted in either nylon or nylon-polyester blend bristles. The first nylon bristled brush was introduced in 1938 and was produced with nylon yarn. Today, nylon bristled brushes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, textures and densities. Whether one requires an extra-soft to a firm bristled brush, one is sure to find a brush to suit in the nylon variety.

Retro Trends

Recently, bristle materials have gone in variant directions. Companies such as Fuchs Dental Care are returning to Siberian boar's hair in the manufacture of their brushes.

Alternative Materials

Alternative materials such as Shabbos toothbrushes are made with rubber bristles.

No Bristles at All

Brazilian designer Fabio Dabori has created an electric toothbrush that replaces the bristles entirely with the use of a sponge.

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