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Brushing Au Naturel with Boar Head Bristles

Jul 23, 2013

If these are the dog days of summer, fetch a bone and call me Snoopy! We’ve covered a boatload of toothbrush topics in our July series “The Power of the Brush,” including last week’s ‘different strokes for different folks’ discussion – the classic ongoing debate about electric toothbrushes versus manual ones.

Photo source:

Two weeks ago, we learned that in the first known case of Chinese carry-out, Europeans imported coarse boar head bristle toothbrushes from China centuries ago and swapped them for softer horsehair bristles. But today many Europeans still love boar head brushes with their original equipment, probably because they're available now in varying degrees of bristle stiffness other than the standard stiff-as-a-board boar bristle. Also, that occasional off-putting wild boar taste is now available in mint, wintergreen and bubble gum boar.

Boar head bristles are a little harder to find in the U.S., although they are available through Amazon and direct marketing outlets – at least, for now.  One of the latter says the European toothbrushes may not be offered after January 1 due to the Affordable Care Act subjecting them to the medical device tax. Yes, you read that right. Toothbrushes are now considered medical devices. But no worries – it’s not like toothbrush manufacturers would pass on that cost to consumers, driving up the cost of all toothbrushes or maybe pulling their products altogether, right?

There are four distinct advantages to boar head bristle toothbrushes:

  • Eco Chic Boar hair bristles are a renewable resource so collecting the bristles is harmless; at least, there have been no boorish complaints to the Geneva Convention or protests from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. One boar can provide enough bristles for multiple toothbrushes in its lifetime and several manufacturers have substituted the plastic handles for smooth wooden ones.  This makes the toothbrushes fully biodegradable and saves landfill space for real trash like used home teeth whitening kits and that stuff in the back of your fridge that CSI forensics couldn't identify.
  • Au Naturel Synthetic nylon is the standard for most modern toothbrushes, but some folks are allergic to nylon. Natural bristle toothbrushes don’t trigger those allergies. Also, the bleach or dye used in synthetic toothbrush bristles can irritate the gums of those sensitive to chemicals. TIP: Confirm the bristles on the boar head toothbrush you are considering are tan or beige; these are the color of unbleached boar’s hair. Any different colors (platinum blonde, red, or tie-dyed) and you are dealing with a boar bristle impersonator – or maybe a party bore, which is a different beast altogether.
  • Deep Cleansed Feeling A soft boar bristle is stiffer than a nylon soft bristle and stiffer than even some synthetic medium bristles. The stiffer boar bristles can easily handle the tough task of scrubbing your teeth and can give you that squeaky clean feeling you may not have had since your last teeth cleaning. Boar head bristles tips can get between your teeth better than nylon because they are less rounded than nylon due to their softness. Boar head bristles are stiff but also soft enough that they won’t damage gums. Think of them as the strong, silent type but sensitive enough about your feelings that you can trust them with your mouth.
  • Tune-up Your Boar Bristles Boar’s hair is natural so it reacts to water differently than nylon. Water softens the boar hair so if the bristles are too stiff before you brush, run water over them for a few seconds before applying toothpaste. Knowing that water softens the bristles is something to keep in mind when choosing how stiff of a boar head toothbrush you may want.
  • Also, brushing your teeth in the morning and at night before going to bed as prescribed in the Handbook of Dental Happiness allows sufficient time for the bristles to dry between uses, and this will extend the life of your toothbrush. 

    Photo source:

    If you are interested in trying a boar head bristle toothbrush, you can find them on from European manufacturers like Brooks-Pearwood, Fuchs (pronounced “Fewks” to avoid any awkward pronunciation issues), Swissco, Koh-I-Noor and other manufacturers in a European village not near you. 

    Thanks for reading Agent Straight-Talk. Stay tuned next week for highlights from earlier topics in our AST series. 

    Sources: Type, Shoebox Shaveshop,

    Copyright 2013 Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC©

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