Nylon or silicone bristles: which is better for your teeth?


Nylon or silicone bristles: which is better for your teeth?

A simple Amazon search reveals dozens of new, futuristic-looking "whole mouth" toothbrushes that claim to offer a complete clean with a reduced brushing time. Most of these brushes feature one thing that you won't find on a Y-Brush: silicone bristles.

So we're here to break down the difference between nylon and silicone, and share with you why nylon bristles are an absolute essential when it comes to effective oral care.

In the more than 4 years we've spent developing Y-Brush according to rigorous quality and efficacy standards, we have tested many different techniques for brushing your teeth. Our goal has always been to develop a toothbrush that delivers the most efficient clean without sacrificing one iota of effectiveness. 

On our quest, we naturally explored many different materials.  And here is what we learned.  


During our research, we carried out numerous efficacy tests "in vitro" (simulated with model teeth) and in vivo (real world application with a real person).  These tests use a plaque revealing solution that turns purple where plaque exists on the teeth.

Below you can compare the plaque removal results of our 2016 prototype toothbrush made with silicone bristles, as well as those of our most recent Y-Brush model, made with nylon bristles.

    Before Brushing with Early (2016) Silicone Bristles Model


    After Brushing with Silicone Model


    As you can see, silicone does remove some plaque, but the amount removed was not acceptable to us; we were looking for something more effective. So our search for a material that would deliver a truly high quality clean continued. 

    Before Brushing with Y-Brush



    After Brushing with the Y-Brush toothbrush    

    Much better, isn't it?

    We are quite proud of the result obtained with Y-Brush. But then, why such a big difference in efficacy between these two technologies?



    The significant differences between nylon and silicone is a very practical one. 

    Nylon bristles are much thinner in width -- less than 0.1 millimetres. This allows them to reach the most difficult to access areas (such as inter-dental spaces of pre-molars for example.)

    By contrast, the vast majority of other "whole mouth" brushes use silicone bristles, bristles with a width of more than 1.5 millimetres. We can state confidently that these wider bristles cannot remove plaque in the spaces they cannot even reach!

    It's a little like the Tom & Jerry cartoon, where big Tom keeps trying to break into the mouse's small house. Even with a struggle, all he can manage is to get his head in.  He can't reach Jerry in the far corners -- he's too big!  Here it's the same principle.

    Follow this illustration:



    There's a very good reason that nylon bristles have always been recommended for plaque removal.

    From a physical point of view, it's simple: the nylon material has an abrasive effect that silicone lacks. Silicone massages the teeth, but doesn't actually create the required friction to actually dislodge plaque. This is why silicone, in addition to the bristles being too wide to reach hard-to-acess areas where plaque accumulates, is not even as effective on the areas it does reach.

    Why would any company even make toothbrushes with silicone bristles?

    It's a question we ask ourselves often.  

    Of course there are significant advantages frrom a business standpoint: silicone bristles are easy and inexpensive to manufacture.

    Despite efforts by some to shore up the credibility of the effectiveness of silicone bristles, no scientific studies have shown it to deliver the same results as nylon bristles. 


    The first group of people to try the Amabrush (a "whole mouth" toothbrush made with silicone bristles, purported to brush teeth in 10 seconds) organized themselves in a Facebook group to share their experiences with this new toothbrush. They created a shared document where they tracked the results of their Amabrush use.

    Their dissatisfaction is quite clear when you read the feedback: the first people to use the Amabrush do not recommend it. The ratings given to the model they tried are all between 1 and 2 (out of 10), they report that the brush does not clean the teeth and they express the desire to be reimbursed.

    One of their Austrian customers carried out a test of the same nature as the one we conducted to show the ineffectiveness of Ambrush and silicone. (Translation below)

    Vor dem Einfärben = Before using the plaque revealing solution 

    Eingefärbt = After using the solution, revealing the plaque

    Putzvorgang mit Amabrush = Use of Amabrush

    Nach 10 sec = After 10 seconds (of "brushing")

    Nach weiteren 10 sec = After 10 additional seconds (i. e. 20 seconds of brushing)

    Danach 1 min. mit Oral B = After 1 minute with a classic - toothbrush - Oral B

    Photo Credit: zvg

    Unfortunately, we don't have high hopes for the other silicone brushes currently available, like the V-White brand products: X-Toothbrush and Hi Toothbrush, as well as the uFunbrush toothbrush for children.



    Y-Brush offers the same ultra-efficient toothbrushing experience so many of our competitors promise but with excellent plaque removal results that are backed up by scientific studies!

    Learn more here.


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