You must care for your toothbrush, too!
Last week I told you about the proper way to brush your teeth. However, did you realize that you must take care of your toothbrush, too? Well, there’s much more to it than just keeping it stored next to your sink for that morning and evening brushing.
Along with using a soft-bristled toothbrush, you need to know how often to begin using a new one as well as cleaning (and what cleaning you thought might be good but isn’t really – such as microwaving or putting in a dishwasher).
In any case, here’s what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says you should and shouldn’t do with your toothbrush:
Do not share toothbrushes. The exchange of body fluids that such sharing would foster places toothbrush sharers at an increased risk for infections, a particularly important consideration for persons with compromised immune systems or infectious diseases.
- After brushing, rinse your toothbrush thoroughly with tap water to ensure the removal of toothpaste and debris, allow it to air-dry, and store it in an upright position. If multiple brushes are stored in the same holder, do not allow them to contact each other.
- It is not necessary to soak toothbrushes in disinfecting solutions or mouthwash. This practice actually may lead to cross-contamination of toothbrushes if the same disinfectant solution is used over a period of time or by multiple users.
- It is also unnecessary to use dishwashers, microwaves, or ultraviolet devices to disinfect toothbrushes. These measures may damage the toothbrush.
- Do not routinely cover toothbrushes or store them in closed containers. Such conditions (a humid environment) are more conducive to bacterial growth than the open air.
- Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months, or sooner if the bristles appear worn or splayed. This recommendation of the American Dental Association is based on the expected wear of the toothbrush and its subsequent loss of mechanical effectiveness, not on its bacterial contamination.
Also, the CDC notes this about disinfecting toothbrushes:
“A decision to purchase or use products for toothbrush disinfection requires careful consideration, as the scientific literature does not support this practice at the present time.”
Click this link for the CDC’s fact sheet about toothbrushes: https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/infectioncontrol/factsheets/toothbrushes.htm
There you have it! All you need to know about maintenance for your toothbrush.