Your toothbrush is probably a permanent fixture on your bathroom counter, so you may not think much about it. Maybe you take a close look at it after your dental visits or when it looks particularly grimy. Just like everything in our lives, your toothbrush requires a little TLC in order to keep both it and your mouth in the best shape.
Why Take Care of Your Toothbrush?
Your toothbrush’s job is to remove dental plaque from your teeth. Plaque contains disease-causing bacteria that lead to cavities and gum disease. Removing it ensures your good oral health.
When you use your toothbrush to remove dental plaque, the bristles help detach it from the tooth surface. Without proper care, the plaque (and its bacteria) will remain on the toothbrush bristles, turning it into a countertop science experiment.
Without care, your toothbrush could actually introduce microorganisms back into your mouth. (One studied showed an alarming number of fecal bacteria present on toothbrushes kept within six feet of a toilet! Always always always close the lid when you flush!)
Ways to Take Care of Your Toothbrush
So now that you understand why it is so important to take care of your toothbrush, here are some important ways to do so.
Clean Your Toothbrush after Each Use.
If you simply brush and spit, tossing your brush onto the counter, you might want to think again. After you use your toothbrush to clean the plaque off your teeth, you should clean the plaque off your brush. The bacteria in plaque can continue to grow and multiply in the moist nooks and crannies of the brush.
After brushing, rinse your brush thoroughly in hot water and dry it off or place it in a well-ventilated place for air-drying. If you dry it with a towel or washcloth, make sure to throw that in the dirty pile.
Store in a Clean, Dry Place.
Where you keep your brush matters. As we mentioned earlier, don’t leave it near a toilet. If you dry the toothbrush after use, you can store it in a drawer or cabinet, or inside a cover. Make sure it is dry, though, because the moisture could cause some microbial growth.
Sanitize Your Toothbrush Periodically.
We say “periodically” because the interval may differ depending on your situation. If you’ve been ill, you may want to sanitize your brush almost daily. When you’re healthy, you may choose to sanitize once a week or once a month. The easiest way to sanitize your toothbrush is to throw it in your dishwasher!
You can also sanitize the brush by mixing a homemade solution of one part bleach to ten parts water and soaking the brush in it for 30 minutes. Rinse it thoroughly and dry it. Understand that it may change the color of the bristles when you use this method.
Replace Brush or Electric Brush Heads Every Three Months
Good toothbrush bristles will not last forever. They will wear out over time, becoming frazzled or splayed. When they reach this state, they are no longer effective at removing dental plaque, so you must replace them. For a manual toothbrush, simply replace the whole brush. For an electric toothbrush, you can replace just the head. You can purchase replacement heads for every type of electric toothbrush for minimal cost.
Never Share Your Toothbrush!
Dental professionals will never understand the temptation to grab a loved one’s toothbrush. The bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease are transmissible between people, and sharing a toothbrush makes that transfer a strong likelihood. Parents share bad bacteria with their children when using their own brushes to brush the child’s teeth. Toothbrushes are inexpensive and readily available in a wide variety of stores. They are also available for free from your dentist or health fairs. In this case, sharing is not caring. Don’t do it!
More Questions about Toothbrushes?
Call Rockland Dental Specialists today to ask your tough questions about oral hygiene. We love helping our patients take care of their teeth, which includes taking care of toothbrushes!