Maintaining Your Toothbrush for Better Dental Care

Your toothbrush plays a very important role in sustaining not only your everyday oral hygiene but also your overall health. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that toothbrushes be replaced about every three to four months. If the bristles are frayed or otherwise damaged prior to that time, you will need a new brush sooner.

Basic tips for general toothbrush care

The following toothbrush care suggestions have been provided by the ADA and the Council on Scientific Affairs:

  • Never share your toothbrush with anyone. Doing so will put both users at risk for infections. The exchange of microorganisms and bodily fluids is particularly dangerous for those with existing diseases or compromised immune systems.
  • Always rinse your toothbrush thoroughly with tap water after each brushing. This will remove any leftover toothpaste, food particles, and debris. Keep your brush stored in an upright position to allow it to air dry completely. If you store multiple toothbrushes in the same container, keep them separated to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Do not use toothbrush covers or keep them stored in closed containers. By putting your brush routinely in a moist environment, you will encourage unhealthy bacteria growth. It is best to keep toothbrushes stored in open air.
  • Don’t forget to replace your toothbrush a minimum of every three to four months. The bristles become worn down and frayed with each use. They eventually lose effectiveness and do not clear away plaque and debris as well. Depending on how hard and how often you brush your teeth will determine the lifespan of your brush. Inspect yours frequently for wear and tear and replace as needed. It is not unusual for children to need more frequent toothbrush replacements than adults.
  • Rinsing your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash prior to brushing may reduce bacteria buildup on toothbrushes.
  • If you wear braces or use other dental appliances, take extra precautions. It has been shown that people who wear such appliances accumulate more germs on their toothbrushes. Reduce the number of collected bacteria on your brush by rinsing it first with an antibacterial mouthwash. It is also helpful to use a Waterpik or water floss er to reach hard to clean areas between teeth and braces.