When was the last time you replaced your toothbrush? We throw out expired foods, restock vitamins and supplements, and replace our beauty products often, but when it comes to health and beauty, it’s our dental hygiene that doesn’t get as much attention or thought as other areas of our regimen. However, there are important rules and tips you should follow for maintaining optimal dental health.
When To Replace your toothbrush
Most dentists, and the American Dental Association (ADA), recommend changing your toothbrush every 3 months. Over time, toothbrushes go through normal wear and tear and become less effective with removing plaque from teeth and gums. Studies have found that around 3 months is when the bristles break down and lose effectiveness.
One other consideration we don’t typically think about (and probably don’t like to think about) is that germs can hide and build up in toothbrush bristles. This makes it important to replace your toothbrush after you’ve had a cold, or risk possible reinfection.
Fungus and bacteria can also develop in the bristles if not taken care of properly. After use, make sure you rinse off and dry your toothbrush thoroughly, storing uncovered in an upright position and keeping it away from other used toothbrushes. When traveling, be sure to cover your toothbrush head to protect it and reduce the spread of germs.
If you can’t remember exactly how long it’s been, pay particular attention to the condition your toothbrush head is in – whether the bristles are worn out, fan-out, or frayed, or especially if you see dark color changes, which is a sign of mold.
What Happens If I Don’t Replace my toothbrush Often Enough?
If knowing that bacteria and fungus accumulate on your toothbrush bristles over time isn’t enough reason to replace your toothbrush more often, there are also several other risks and uninviting issues involved with not replacing your toothbrush. One risk includes damaging your gums, as old toothbrushes become ineffective with removing plaque from your teeth, which leads to gingivitis. Left untreated, gingivitis leads to infection, which can cause teeth to fall out.
Even more unappealing, you can get sick from overused toothbrushes (see: bacteria and fungus build-up), your toothbrush can grow mold, or possibly the least appealing, you can ingest unwanted particles if stored near a toilet.
I don’t know about you, but I’m going to go change my toothbrush right now and schedule a deep cleaning with my dentist.
What To Consider When Shopping for Dental Products
Size. The best toothbrush head for you should allow you easy access to all surfaces of your teeth. For most adults, a toothbrush head a half-inch wide and one-inch tall will be the easiest to use and the most effective. Though there are larger toothbrush heads available, you may find that it is difficult to maneuver them to clean certain hard-to-reach areas, such as the sides and backs of your molars. The toothbrush should have a long enough handle so you can comfortably hold it in your hand.
Bristle variety. If you go to the drug store to purchase a manual toothbrush or a replacement head for your electric toothbrush, you will be able to select a toothbrush with soft, medium, or hard nylon bristles. For the vast majority of people, a soft-bristled toothbrush will be the most comfortable and safest choice. Depending on how vigorously you brush your teeth and the strength of your teeth, medium- and hard-bristled brushes could damage the gums, root surface, and protective tooth enamel. For even more tooth protection when you brush, be sure the bristles on the toothbrush you select have rounded tips.
Expert recommendation. To ensure your toothbrush has undergone rigorous quality control tests for cleaning effectiveness and safety, ask your dentist for a recommendation. Or look for manual or powered toothbrushes that have earned the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Approval.
For disposable toothbrushes, this seal ensures that: the bristles will have safe tips; the bristles will not fall out of the toothbrush under typical brushing conditions; the handle will withstand normal use, and the toothbrush will effectively reduce plaque build-up and gum disease in their early stages.
In addition to satisfying these conditions, powered or electric toothbrushes bearing the seal also must undergo safety testing in an independent lab and prove through clinical trials that the toothbrush is safe for use on the tissues of the mouth and teeth, as well as any dental hardware that may be in place.
We love our patients and love to help them form a healthy dental life that will last them a lifetime. Lancaster Dental is a dental clinic in Lancaster, Bellaire Acres, Westridge, Lancaster North, and Ten Mile Creek Neighborhood we have the best dental services in Texas: General & Cosmetic Dentistry, Crowns & Bridges, Dental Implants, Emergency Services, Teeth Whitening, Pediatric Dentistry, Braces & Invisalign For more information call us to answer all of your questions so you can get an appointment today.