Although we use them everyday, how much do we really know about treating our toothbrushes the right way? Regardless of the the brand, style, power option and bristle type using a poorly kept toothbrush is bad idea for a variety of reasons. Our teeth rely on regular tooth brushing more than any other form of cleaning. Understanding things like how long one should use the same toothbrush or how to store them between uses is vital to our oral health. This piece aims to offer you knowledge and advice you can use to optimize the toothbrushes you and your loves ones use.
The Fundamentals for Manual Toothbrushes
First and foremost, you should use a soft bristled toothbrush with effective brushing technique twice daily for optimal results. With that level of use and the resulting wear and tear, the average person should change their toothbrush once every three months. For those who have periodontal disease a new brush is recommend at least every two months. Those with medical conditions that put you at a greater risk of bacterial or viral infection should consult with their dental professional.
After each use your toothbrush should be washed thoroughly under hot water and left to dry in an upright position in an open air space. Storing a wet and recently used toothbrush in an enclosed space exposes it to a moist environment that is prime for bacterial growth. Since we use our toothbrushes to remove food debris, bacteria and plaque from our teeth the bristles are constantly exposed to bacteria. Standard toothbrush holders with slots for various brushes are recommended. Toothbrush bristles of various brushes should never touch each other as this can lead to the transfer of germs and bacteria.
Let Your Brush Go With Your Cold
You should always replace your toothbrush following a bout with a cold, flu, sore throat or other oral infection. No matter how well we wash and dry the bristles they can easily play host to the germs, virus or bacteria you were battling. This can increase your risk of getting sick all over again.
Powered toothbrush heads are different than conventional manual bristles. The frequency with which you change your toothbrush head and how you store it depends on the manufacturer’s recommendations. A general rule of thumb is once every six months however this might not be the case for the brush you have. Certain higher end models even have sanitization chambers that makes changing less of a priority. These should be used to keep your brushes as clean as possible.
Traveling with Your Toothbrush
When travelling it is imperative that you use a toothbrush specific storage container. This will ensure that your brush and bristles are protected from dirt, debris and heavy objects en route. Never store a wet toothbrush in a container and allow it to dry in an upright position whenever possible. If you have been using your current toothbrush for some time, it is strongly suggested that you opt to take a new toothbrush with you on your trip. You might as well enjoy a new toothbrush while on your adventure.
Photos: Dr. Oz