Protecting your teeth means brushing and flossing every day to avoid the ravages of tooth decay and gum disease. Although you will want to throw out any floss used to clean your pearly whites, you won’t want to throw your toothbrush away after use!
You will, however, want to rinse your toothbrush well with warm water after each use, because not only are you transferring bacteria that inhabit your mouth but also toothpaste, saliva, blood (from your gums) and oral debris to your toothbrush when cleaning your teeth. The American Dental Association and the Council on Scientific Affairs recommend the following for daily toothbrush care:
While it may be tempting to share a toothbrush on occasion, it is a bad idea! Sharing allows the exchange of body fluids along with bacteria, which can be harmful if someone has an infection, a compromised immune system, or an infectious disease such as a cold, flu, gum disease, etc. Make sure your children each have their own toothbrushes and see that your significant other has their own as well. Don’t germ-share!
After you have cleaned your teeth, rinse well with warm water and place your toothbrush upright in a container, making sure the bristles don’t touch other surfaces. If you share a toothbrush holder with someone else, make sure the bristles don’t come in contact with each other.
Unless you are traveling, don’t be tempted to keep your toothbrush covered with a toothbrush cover, even if you think they will keep germs away. Closed containers trap moisture in them which makes them a breeding ground for bacteria. If you let your toothbrush air dry between uses, it will help limit bacteria from growing.
As your toothbrush scrubs your teeth over time, the bristles will tend to break down, and as they fray they will not effectively clean your teeth anymore. While the ADA recommends changing your toothbrush every 3-4 months, check your bristles often and replace them whenever they are frayed. You don’t want your teeth to develop problems from ineffective brushing.
Is it safe to sanitize your toothbrush in the dishwasher or microwave? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the answer is no. It advises against disinfecting your toothbrush in one of these appliances because manufacturers did not design them to be safe for toothbrushes, so they will actually damage the toothbrush, making the bristles less effective.
While it is not necessary to soak your toothbrush in a solution after each use, you can soak it in an antibacterial mouthwash once a week to decrease bacteria levels. And if you have been sick, you can consider throwing away your manual toothbrush to resist recontamination.
We hope these tips help you keep your pearly whites safe and sound. If you have further questions or concerns, we invite you to reach out to our dental team at Endodontic Associates of Bayside today! 718-224-4000