Toothbrush Tips: Choosing and Caring for a Toothbrush
How do you know which toothbrush is best for you? How do you keep your toothbrush in good shape? And how do you know when you are due for a new brush? Here is everything you need to know about the toothbrushes that you and your kids use in your daily dental care routines.
Selecting a toothbrush
In general, toothbrushes with soft bristles are best because they are gentle on tooth enamel but are still effective at removing plaque and debris from the teeth. In fact, many dentists are quick to point out that brushing too hard is a leading cause for sensitive teeth in their patients. Toothbrushes with smaller heads are also ideal for getting to hard-to-reach places in the mouth. As for handle type and head shape, these are matters of personal preference. If the shape of the brush makes it easy for you to reach every tooth’s surface in the mouth, then that is a good shape for you.
These same rules apply for toothbrushes for children, but keep in mind that you want to consider smaller, more suitably-sized manual and electric toothbrushes geared toward children for their dental care. Children in particular can benefit from the use of electric toothbrushes because they tend to have less manual dexterity than adults do.
Caring for your toothbrush
Because toothbrushes can so easily hold bacteria—even right out of the package—it’s important to clean them accordingly before using them to clean your mouth. Give your toothbrush a thorough rinse with tap water to clear debris before every use. In more extreme cases, you may want to run your toothbrush through the dishwasher or soak it in an antibacterial mouthwash before use.
After using your toothbrush, give the brush another thorough rinse and be sure to keep the bristles out in open air during storage to prevent bacterial growth. Toothbrush racks or simple cups work best for this.
When to replace a toothbrush
Most dentists recommend changing out your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months. Why so often? This is when toothbrushes tend to start showing wear, and worn toothbrush bristles can actually damage gums. Moreover, toothbrushes can collect germs that stick around for weeks when you are sick, leading to reinfection if you are not careful. Therefore, replacing your toothbrush after you are very sick is a good idea as well.