Fraying of toothbrush bristles -Know what’s wrong

Written by Dr. Apurva Chavan

Medically reviewed by  Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali Kabade BDS, TCC

Last updated May 4, 2024

Written by Dr. Apurva Chavan

Medically reviewed by  Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali Kabade BDS, TCC

Last updated May 4, 2024

Is your brush looking like it’s having a bad hair day? Are all of its bristles sticking out at weird angles?  Fraying toothbrush bristles is a sign that you might be brushing aggressively.

Bristles are the brains of your brush

Just like bodies can’t function without the brain, your toothbrush is useless without a good set of bristles. Frayed, bent, yellowed bristles are not cleaning your teeth but damaging them.

Fraying of toothbrush bristles


Fraying of toothbrush bristles within 3 months, indicates that you are brushing too hard. Look at yourself in the mirror while brushing. Are you brushing too fast or aggressively? Are your bristles spreading out while brushing? If yes, then you need to slow down and be gentle while brushing.

Brushing harder does not clean your teeth better

Brushing aggressively, not only damages your precious enamel but also makes them susceptible to tooth decay. You may think brushing harder will make your teeth white and shine bright, but don’t confuse this with washing clothes. Brushing harder erodes your enamel. This just invites tooth sensitivity as your next dental problem.

What happens if you don’t replace your frayed toothbrush?

Frayed bristles cannot clean plaque or remove food lodged between your teeth effectively. They are very rough on your teeth and erode the enamel. This makes your teeth prone to cavities and causes tooth sensitivity. Splayed-out bristles cause micro-cuts in our gums and can cause your bleeding gums. Prolonged use of frayed bristles also makes you prone to gum and periodontal disease.

It’s time for a new one

Hard-bristled toothbrushes tend to be harsh on your teeth and easily fray away. So, you can try using a soft or medium bristled brush to make sure that your brush is gentle on your teeth. E.g. Colgate slim soft range.

If forgetting to replace your toothbrush is your concern, you can even get toothbrushes with indicator stripes. These fade away with use and are a great way to remember to replace your brush. E.g. Oral-B 40 Soft Bristles Indicator Contour Clean Toothbrush. You can also download the DentalDost App and the app will keep you updated on when you should change your toothbrush

Consider an electric toothbrush


Electric toothbrushes are excellent for people who apply too much pressure while brushing.  Now electric toothbrushes with pressure sensors are available which beep when you press too hard. They even have a timer that tells you when to stop brushing so that you don’t go overboard. Oral – B ‘pro’ 2 2000 and the Philips Sonicare protective clean 5100 are some great pressure-sensitive electric toothbrushes.

Know when to replace your brush

Frayed or not your toothbrush needs replacement every 3-4 months. A toothbrush with frayed bristles needs replacement even sooner. 

So remember to change your toothbrush regularly. Even electric brushes need changing or the brush head replacement done regularly. Do not forget to floss and keep your tongue clean to maintain a well-rounded oral hygiene routine.


  • Fraying of toothbrush bristles could indicate you’re applying too much pressure while brushing your teeth.
  • Remember brushing your teeth harder will not clean them better.
  • Frayed bristles lose their cleaning efficiency.
  • Change your toothbrush the time you feel the bristles are getting frayed.
  • If you are not able to know how much pressure to apply while brushing our teeth, go for electric toothbrushes.
  • Frayed or not, remember to change your toothbrush every 3-4 months.

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Stay Informed, Smile On!

Author Bio: Dr. Apurva Chavan is a dentist by the day and a voracious reader and writer by the night. She loves to fix smiles and tries to keep all her procedures as pain free as possible. Equipped with over 5 years of experience she loves to not just treat her patients but also educate them about dental hygiene and appropriate maintanence routines. After a long day of preserving smiles she loves to curl up with a good book or pen down some of life’s musings. She strongly belives that learning never stops and likes to keep her self updates with all the latest dental news and research.

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