Even though you may be regularly brushing your teeth, it might not be as effective as you think if your toothbrush is dirty or worn out. The next time you brush, take a look at the tool you are using to clean your mouth to make sure it’s not time for a new one. How do you know when the time is right for a change?
The first thing to think about is bacteria. A toothbrush can harbor millions of cells of bacteria, and they don’t completely wash away just by rinsing your brush. Water isn’t enough to thoroughly eliminate food particles and bacteria. This means that you should change your toothbrush regularly, especially after an illness, so that you’ll be less likely to be brushing your teeth with a germ-filled brush.
Another consideration is the quality of the toothbrush. With use over time, the bristles become frayed and loose. Eventually your toothbrush will be ineffective in the goal of eliminating plaque and cleaning your teeth. It doesn’t matter if the bristles started out as firm or soft, they will eventually wear out.
Most dentists recommend replacing your toothbrush every three months. If it has been contaminated with illness, throw it away and get a new one because the bacteria may continue to live on your toothbrush.
As you use your toothbrush, here are some tips on keeping it clean:
- Rinse it with hot water after use, and let it air dry. Because bacteria requires moisture to survive, give your toothbrush time to dry out between uses so that bacteria is less likely to persist.
- Clean your toothbrush once a week in boiling water, mouthwash, or hydrogen peroxide. Soak the brush for at least ten seconds each time to sanitize it.
- Store your toothbrush in an upright position, which will help it dry faster and keep the bristles away from contaminated surfaces.
Many dentists provide free toothbrushes at checkups, but if you miss an appointment don’t neglect changing your toothbrush on your own. It’s an inexpensive way to protect your oral health.