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3 Ways You Are Mistreating Your Toothbrush

You rely on your toothbrush a few times a day to keep your teeth clean, white, and shiny, but what are you doing to repay the favor? Although most people don't think about it, the fact of the matter is that toothbrushes need routine care to stay functional and sanitary. Here are three ways you might be mistreating your toothbrush and what you can do to make things right.  

1. Not Rinsing the Brush Head Thoroughly

When you brush, you are using your toothbrush and toothpaste to physically remove biofilm from the surface of your teeth and tongue. The simple act of brushing your teeth can fill your toothbrush with toothpaste residue, bacteria, and food grime, so you must rinse the head thoroughly after each and every use.

If the head of your toothbrush isn't rinsed properly after brushing, the residues can harden around the bristles, where they place more pressure on the brush. Stiffened bristles can even make it more difficult to brush effectively, since they may not flex to whisk away plaque appropriately.

After you brush, place the head of your toothbrush under a stream of running water. Using a clean thumb, press the bristles to allow water to rinse the area at the base of the brush. Rinse the handle carefully to keep your toothbrush clean, and consider drying the entire toothbrush with a clean paper towel. In addition to extending the life of your toothbrush, a little careful cleaning will also keep your bathroom tidier.

2. Ignoring Damaged Bristles

New toothbrushes can feel foreign in your mouth at first, which is why you might welcome a brush that breaks in over time. Unfortunately, as you use your toothbrush, the bristles can become damaged, causing problems for your gums and teeth.

Although many people assume bent bristles are more flexible, they can actually scrape gum tissue or cause unnecessary enamel erosion in the surfaces of your teeth. Over time, it is even possible to erode enough gum tissue that the teeth become unstable, putting you at a higher risk for tooth loss. Unlike other tissues in the body, dental enamel and gum tissue don't grow back, which is why you need to keep an eye on your toothbrush bristles.

To prevent unnecessary injuries, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends replacing toothbrushes every 3-4 months, or whenever you notice visible damage. As you brush, focus on using gentle strokes to keep bristles from bending. If you struggle with brushing aggressively, consider switching to an electric toothbrush with a pressure sensor.

3. Using Toothbrush Covers

Bathrooms can be dirty places, and your toothbrush cup is no exception. Researchers have discovered that every time you flush your toilet, an invisible plume of bacteria-laden germs coats the surfaces of your bathroom. Although keeping your toothbrush covered might seem like an easy way to protect those bristles from this threat, dentists warn that covers do more harm than good.

While it is true that toothbrush covers create a physical barrier between your brush head and exterior grime, they also keep your toothbrush from drying. Since bacteria thrives in dark, moist places, toothbrush covers can actually create a breeding ground for pathogenic growth, creating more of a problem.

To keep your toothbrush clean and sanitary, skip the cover and keep your brush in a dry place. If you want to keep the brush accessible, consider keeping it uncovered in a cup in your medicine cabinet.

If you suspect your toothbrush has seen better days, bring it with you the next time you visit our office. Our dentist, Jay A. Hollander DDS, is more than happy to inspect your toothbrush for damage and answer your dental care questions. Make your next appointment at our clinic today!