Like most things in life, toothbrushes eventually wear out with use. But how do you know if it’s time to throw your brush in the trash and invest in a new one? The following tips can help you recognize when it is time to replace your toothbrush to maintain a healthy, beautiful smile.
Signs Your Toothbrush Needs to Go
If you can’t remember the last time your replaced your toothbrush, then chances are it is time to get a new one. The American Dental Association recommends replacing your toothbrush every three or four months — or sooner if the bristles are worn. As bristles start to fray, they lose their effectiveness and cannot adequately remove debris and plaque from the teeth and gum line. Because children often brush more vigorously than adults, their toothbrushes may need to be replaced more frequently.
One easy way to remember when it is time to get a new toothbrush is to swap out your brush after each routine dental appointment, or every six months. Between dental visits, or every three months, you will want to do the same. Simply make a note on your calendar as a reminder to replace your toothbrush on that date as well.
If you’ve been sick with the cold or flu, bacteria may stay on your brush. Your toothbrush is also a breeding ground for germs, so consider getting a new one following an illness to avoid recontamination.
How to Care for Your Toothbrush
Not only is it important to replace your toothbrush regularly, but you should also take care of your brush to keep it clean and help it last longer. By taking proper care of your toothbrush, you can maximize its cleaning effectiveness and reduce the risk of bacterial contamination.
- Thoroughly rinse the toothbrush with water after each use to remove excess toothpaste and debris.
- Keep the toothbrush in an open area to air-dry rather than contained in a drawer or medicine cabinet. Enclosed, most environments are more conducive to bacterial growth.
- When storing more than one toothbrush, do not allow the brushes to touch.
- Never share your toothbrush, as bacteria or a virus in your mouth can be transferred via toothbrush to the person with whom you are sharing.
How to Select the Right Toothbrush for You
When you go to purchase a new toothbrush, it’s important to know which brush is the right one for you and your family. Whether you prefer mechanical or electrical brushes, here are a few things to keep in mind when selecting a new toothbrush.
- Choose the right size toothbrush for your mouth. The brush head should allow you to easily and comfortably access all surfaces in your mouth. A toothbrush head that is too big cannot clean important, hard-to-reach back teeth.
- Choose a soft-bristled brush, as hard bristles can damage the gums and tooth enamel.
- Look for the ADA “Seal of Acceptance” when choosing a new toothbrush, which guarantees that it meets the ADA’s tough standards for safety and effectiveness.
- If you have kids, select brushes designed specifically for their small mouths. Child-sized toothbrushes come in many fun colors and characters to make brushing fun.
By following these simple steps, you can ensure that you and your kids are making the most of your oral health habits at home — starting with proper toothbrush selection and care. In addition to proper toothbrush upkeep and excellent at-home oral health habits, you and your family should see your dentist twice a year for checkups and cleanings. At these visits, your dentist can confirm if you are brushing properly and will even provide you with a new toothbrush to take home.
Author bio: Bonnie Coberly earned her certifications from both the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University. Coberly now works with her clients at Natural Horizons Wellness Centers to help them understand the impact your oral health has on your overall health.