According to recent studies, 43 percent of Americans say they don’t know when they should change their toothbrush. In many cases, toothbrushes are kept in use for weeks or even months longer than they should. Perhaps that doesn’t seem like such a big deal to you, but when you consider the many sanitary and durability implications of using an old toothbrush, you’ll understand its necessity.
The most common reason to change your toothbrush is time. After 3-4 months of use microorganisms take hold which could lead to oral or systematic infections. Additionally, the bristles will typically begin to show visible signs of wear and tear at this point, often appearing frayed. When this occurs, the toothbrush can no longer effectively remove plaque and tartar buildup and keep oral health in balance. Of course, some may notice these signs earlier than others depending upon the type of toothbrush, how often it is used, and how hard they brush. If you notice bristles beginning to fray before the 3 or 4 month mark, change your toothbrush early. Oftentimes, children will need to replace theirs sooner than an adult patient would.
Another primary reason to replace your toothbrush is if you have recently had an illness such as a cold, the flu, or strep throat. Continuing to use the same toothbrush afterward greatly increases the risk of reinfection. The bacteria it was exposed to while you were sick may leave your body but can continue to thrive on the bristles of your toothbrush, eventually making its way back in.
Caring for Your Toothbrush
Naturally, you’ll want to keep your toothbrush as clean as possible during its time of use. However, there are a few common mistakes you should be aware of which may allow microorganisms to grow. For instance, you should never share a toothbrush. Doing so will introduce new, outside bacteria which can lead to infection. For individuals with compromised immune systems or infectious diseases, this can be of particular concern.
Additionally, you’ll want to ensure that you clean and store your toothbrush properly. After each brushing, clean the bristles thoroughly with water, removing any remaining toothpaste. Allow the brush to air dry afterwards. Do not cover your toothbrush or use a closed container to store it on a regular basis. This enclosed, moist environment is ideal for bacteria growth.
Your toothbrush is your single most effective tool in the fight against oral diseases, cavities, and bad breath. In order for it to continue doing its job, proper care is required. Following the guidelines above will help ensure that your toothbrush remains clean and durable throughout its use.
Of course, regular dental exams are also necessary for dental health. If you are in the Thibodaux area, contact the office of Dr. Ber to schedule your own exam by clicking here or calling us directly at (985) 446-5031.