Toothbrushes, like Rodney Dangerfield, get no respect. They do their job day in and day out, fighting the demons of plaque and tartar in your mouth. And their thanks is to be hidden away in a dark drawer or hung on a rack until their next use. Because it is always there, it’s easy to overlook your humble toothbrush.
Since we’re all about preventive dentistry at the Doctors of Dental Medicine, here are some things you should know about that toothbrush or yours.
Probably the most important thing to know is this — let your toothbrush thoroughly dry out between brushings. This is important because, like most things you leave wet, a damp toothbrush can be home to multiplying bacteria and other germs. If your toothbrush dries most of those germs die a painful death. Also, when finished brushing, let tap water run through the bristles to fully remove any remaining paste and food particles. Then store the toothbrush in an upright position so that the air can dry it out.
And keep that toothbrush in solitary. You don’t think about it, but your toothbrush and that of your partner’s shouldn’t be touching. Why? Cold and flu viruses can easily jump from one toothbrush to another. A toothbrush holder will keep them separate. If you want, let them see another toothbrush on Valentine’s Day.
How often to change your toothbrush
Some people change their hairstyle far more often than their toothbrush. By the time they finally decide to get a new toothbrush, the bristles on the old model are flattened like a roadside possum. At the Doctors of Dental Medicine, we recommend that you change your toothbrush every three months. After three months of normal use, toothbrushes are no longer nearly as effective at removing plaque. The bristles become bent and they break down, losing their effectiveness when getting into the tough spots.
Also, when you finally get over that lingering cold or flu, be sure to change your toothbrush. The germs from illness or infection can loiter in your toothbrush, leading to re-infection.
If you’re one of those whose brushing could best be described as cursory, it may seem like an eternity at first, but you really need to brush twice daily for two full minutes. Break it into 30 seconds per quarter, if you want. Make sure to brush your tongue, the roof of your mouth, the pockets down along your upper gums. Two minutes.
Have more questions about basic oral hygiene? Call us at 732-329-3113 and let’s talk teeth!