You know how to care for your teeth, from brushing and flossing to seeing your dentist for regular cleanings and checkups. Did you know, however, that your toothbrush needs care as well? Giving this all-important cleaning implement some toothbrush TLC is an important part of good oral health.
Proper Toothbrush Replacement
You should replace your toothbrush every three to four months as well as any time you notice its bristles have become frayed. The reason for this is threefold.
The first is a worn-out toothbrush doesn’t perform as effectively. When your toothbrush gets tattered, the bristles bend away from your teeth as you brush. This keeps their fine tips from penetrating between your teeth and gums. Your ability to remove plaque and bacteria is hindered, leaving you more vulnerable to cavities and gum disease. Replacing your toothbrush is also a great way to stop bacterial buildup on the bristles, allowing for a fresh start.
Additionally, toothbrush bristles are purposely rounded while they’re manufactured, making them softer so the sharp edges don’t damage your gums or teeth. When a toothbrush that’s been used one—or a hundred—too many times, the bristles become jagged and can scrape away gum tissue and enamel.
If you tend to forget to replace your family’s toothbrushes amid the hustle and bustle of life, you can set a reminder on your calendar around the time you should buy new ones. While you’re at it, you may also want to add a reminder to get your teeth professionally cleaned, something that should be done twice a year.
Proper Toothbrush Storage
Germs breed in wet, dark conditions, so you want to store your toothbrush in an upright position in a container where it can air out. Avoid covering the brush-head or storing toothbrushes in closed containers where the moist bristles can become a breeding ground for bacteria, viruses, and fungus.
You may want to store your toothbrush in a plastic toothbrush case while traveling to protect its bristles. Once you’re in your hotel or other accommodations, however, you should let your toothbrush dry in the open air as usual.
Don’t Share Toothbrushes Or Their Germs
When more than one person uses the same toothbrush, they end up swapping body fluids and microorganisms, which can cause infection to spread. This unsavory exchange is particularly concerning if you have a compromised immune system and during cold and flu season.
You also run the risk of germs spreading from person to person if you plunk all your family’s toothbrushes in a cup or somewhere else where they touch each other. This can contribute to that well-known phenomenon where an illness like a cold or sinus infection circulates throughout a household. Instead, it’s recommended you purchase a toothbrush holder with multiple slots.
Cleaning And Sanitizing your Toothbrush
Keeping your toothbrush clean is a relatively simple proposition. Just rinse your toothbrush with warm water after every brushing to make sure the bristles are free of food particles or toothpaste.
You use your toothbrush to clean your mouth of bacteria, so it’s a given that bacteria can collect and flourish on your toothbrush. With this in mind, you may want to occasionally sanitize your family’s toothbrush collection, particularly during cold and flu season. There are several methods you can undertake, including:
- Immersing toothbrush heads in antibacterial mouthwash for 15 minutes.
- Storing your toothbrush in a cup of hydrogen peroxide
- Boiling your toothbrush for about 3 minutes
- Buying a UV toothbrush sanitizer
You take care of your toothbrush. Dr. Zach Taylor and his staff at Taylor Cosmetic Dentistry of Billings, Montana will do the rest. If you have any questions or want to make an appointment, we encourage you to contact us. We guarantee you’ll never get the brush-off!