When it comes to caring for your teeth, you may give some thought to brushing daily and you may even floss on a regular basis. However, how much thought do you give to caring for your toothbrush? If the answer to that question leaves you questioning even the last time you replaced your toothbrush let alone cared for it, then it is important to pay attention. Your toothbrush is a tool designed to clean your teeth, yet it will not do a very good job if it is not clean itself.
- Rinse your toothbrush well. Every time you use your toothbrush to brush your teeth, you are loosening plaque buildup that has gathered on your teeth throughout the day. Plaque is a sticky substance, and there will inevitably be some that is caught between the bristles of your toothbrush. Rinsing your toothbrush well after each use will help to wash away most of this lingering plaque.
- Air dry your toothbrush in an upright position. Plaque is laden with bacteria, and as with all bacteria, those left behind on your toothbrush thrive in moist environments. After you have rinsed your toothbrush well, store it in an upright position and leave it uncovered so that it will air dry quickly to eliminate the moist environment. If you are travelling, make sure your toothbrush is completely dry before packing it; better yet, have a separate toothbrush set aside for travel.
- Do not share your toothbrush. Your toothbrush helps to remove bacteria-laden plaque from your mouth. Well, a toothbrush does the same for everyone else. If you share a toothbrush with another person, you are simply putting their plaque into your own mouth. That’s just gross.
- Keep your toothbrush away from the toilet. In bathrooms that do not have a door separating the toilet from the rest of the room, it is imperative that you pay attention to where you keep your toothbrush. Every time you flush a toilet, there is overspray that enters the air. This overspray contains urine and fecal matter, and it will land on anything in its path. Make sure that is not your toothbrush!
- Replace your toothbrush often. The American Dental Association recommends that you replace your toothbrush every 3-6 months. Using a clean tool for cleaning your mouth is essential. If you have ever be curious as to why your dentist gives you a new toothbrush at each visit – this is why.
- Replace your toothbrush after illness. Germs can linger on almost any type of surface for up to 10 days. If you have been ill with a cold, the flu, strep throat, a stomach bug, or any other illness, it is important that you replace your toothbrush after your illness subsides. Replacing your toothbrush will protect you from re-infecting yourself.