Should you use a toothbrush cap? How often do you change your toothbrush? Proper toothbrush care isn’t something that people tend to think about much, but it’s an important part of your oral hygiene. Your toothbrush is the tool you use for cleaning your mouth, and it can’t do a good job if it’s dirty.
Below: our do’s and don'ts of proper toothbrush care, plus a couple bonus options!
Toothbrush Care: Do’s
Do wash your hands well before brushing and flossing to avoid transferring bacteria on your hands to your toothbrush.
Do rinse your toothbrush thoroughly before and after you brush. After brushing your teeth, your toothbrush bristles are covered in bacteria, tiny bits of food and other particles. Thoroughly rinse off your toothbrush with tap water after brushing, otherwise you will simply be scrubbing all those particles back into your mouth the next time you brush. And it’s a good idea to give your brush a quick rinse before each use, too!
Do store your toothbrush in an upright position. If more than one toothbrush is stored in the same container, make sure they aren’t touching each other. This will help avoid picking up and spreading germs from your toothbrush to any other surfaces, and vice versa.
Do let your toothbrush air dry.
Germs need moisture to survive, so letting toothbrush bristles dry thoroughly
between uses is the best and simplest way to keep your toothbrush clean. Let those bristles breathe!
Do replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months! Bristles wear out eventually, and worn bristles are not effective at cleaning away bacterial plaque from our teeth. Older toothbrushes can carry more bacteria as well, due to exposure to more germs over a longer period of time.
Tip: If you have a tough time remembering when to change your toothbrush, change it once every season. The winter and summer solstices (around December and June 21st, respectively) and the fall and spring equinoxes (around March and September 21st, respectively) mark the changes in seasons, and are convenient times to remember to make other changes in your life, too – such as changing out your toothbrush!
Toothbrush Care: Don’ts
Don’t use a toothbrush cap! This is alluded to above (do let your toothbrush air dry), but many people erroneously believe that a toothbrush cover will protect the bristles from unsanitary particles. The truth is that covering up damp bristles just makes them the perfect breeding ground for germy growth. Instead, implement habits like placing your toothbrush away from the toilet, closing the toilet lid before flushing, rinsing your toothbrush thoroughly before and after each use, and air drying your toothbrush.
Don’t share toothbrushes. Ever. Even between partners and with proper rinsing and air dying, toothbrush bristles can still carry foreign germs to another person. Brushing can cause micro abrasions or bleeding gums, which exposes everyone who shares toothbrushes to blood-borne illnesses. Sharing toothbrushes raises the risk of spreading potentially dangerous and foreign microorganisms to other people, and is of particular concern with immuno-suppressed people.
Don’t use a dishwasher or microwave in the attempt to sanitize or disinfect your toothbrush. It can easily damage your toothbrush.
Optional: It’s Up To You If You Do or Don’t!
UV Sanitizers – UV sanitizers are effective at reducing the amount of bacteria on toothbrush bristles, but they cannot completely sterilize them – nor are they really necessary. As long as you care for your toothbrush properly, it should be perfectly safe and effective for twice daily use. Overuse of UV sanitizers may even damage a toothbrush over time, but this is not usually an issue as long as you are changing your toothbrush every 3-4 months.
Sanitizing Solutions – Like UV sanitizers, toothbrush sanitizing solutions cannot completely sterilize a toothbrush. They are a bit less effective at reducing the amount of bacteria compared with UV sanitizers, but again, they are usually not necessary as long as your toothbrush is properly cared for. If you wish, you can soak your toothbrush in a sanitizing solution once a week to help disinfect it. You can use antibacterial mouthwash or simple at-home solutions, such as 2 teaspoons of baking soda mixed with water, or plain white vinegar, or 3% hydrogen peroxide. Allow your toothbrush to soak in the solution for several minutes, air dry thoroughly, and rinse before use.
Toothbrush care is often overlooked, but it is an important part of good dental care and oral hygiene. Brush twice a day for two minutes each to keep your mouth in good shape – and follow the above do’s and don’ts to keep your toothbrush in good shape!