Practicing good oral health does more than getting rid of bad breath while giving you a white, dazzling smile. It also helps stave off plaque build-up, which can turn to gum disease when left untreated.
Gum diseases cause all sorts of health problems — including dementia, heart diseases, cancer, and even increased risk of premature birth in pregnant women.
According to the ADA, brushing your teeth twice a day for at least 2 minutes per session is one of the best ways to maintain good oral health. This helps get rid of plaque, which goes a long way in keeping your gums healthy.
Daily use subjects your toothbrush to normal wear and tear. With time, the bristles can fray and become less efficient. Whenever this happens, it’s a sign that the toothbrush or toothbrush head needs replacement.
If your toothbrush’s bristles aren’t frayed or matted, you may still need to change them. This is because bacteria and fungus accumulate on the brushes as you continue using them, increasing the risk of infection.
When Should You Replace Your Toothbrush?
Frayed bristles are an obvious sign that it’s time to replace your toothbrush. You may be tempted to continue using the brush, but there can be consequences to your oral health if you do.
When you have a gum or tooth infection, you might not think your toothbrush is to blame. But studies have proven that worn toothbrushes are less efficient in plaque removal, which increases gum infection rates.
You should replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months or earlier if you notice fraying on the bristles. You also need to change them after an illness — like a cold — to avoid repeated infection in your mouth, nose, or throat.
Most toothbrushes can be replaced after 6 months. This can be the case for travel toothbrushes you don’t use as much. Or you can consider using a disposable one, as storing brushes in a closed container (like when traveling) can cause bacteria buildup.
Children can be rougher with their toothbrushes than adults, which can cause the bristles to wear out much faster. You may need to check their brushes regularly and change any worn ones, even if the wear happens earlier than the recommended replacement duration.
We recommend you supervise young children whenever you can to ensure they aren’t mishandling their brushes. They may brush the bristles against other surfaces, which can collect and spread more germs.
How to Care for Your Toothbrush
You should always keep your toothbrushes clean to improve your oral hygiene. Rinsing off your toothbrush with enough clean water after every use helps remove any paste or debris that may cause bacterial growth.
Keeping moist toothbrushes in a closed container can lead to bacterial growth and buildup which can make you sick. That’s why you should store the brushes in a clean and dry place. Keep them in an upright position in an open container and allow them to air dry between uses.
Due to the risk of gathering fecal coliform bacteria released into the air upon flushing a toilet, it’s advisable not to store them near the toilet.
If you prefer sanitizing the brushes, especially for your kids, check that the sanitizing product is FDA-approved. But note that using high heat to disinfect a toothbrush — such as microwaving — can reduce the bristles’ effectiveness.
Never share toothbrushes, as this can lead to an exchange of bodily fluids and bacteria. If someone uses yours mistakenly, dispose of it and get a new one.
Bonus tip: Whenever a family member has an illness like a cold, it’s essential to keep their brush separate to avoid spreading the infection. And don’t forget to change it out once they’ve recovered.
Manual Vs. Electric Toothbrushes
There are 2 types of toothbrushes – manual and electric. Both are effective in removing plaque, but they have distinguishing features that set them apart.
Manual toothbrushes are affordable and convenient to use.
Manual toothbrushes come in all sizes, patterns, and designs – rounded and squared heads, soft and hard bristles, straight and flexible handles, etc.
Electric toothbrushes clean your teeth by performing rotations, which helps reach hard-to-clean areas, such as between your teeth or along your gum line.
They come in handy as they have a timer that helps you clean your teeth for an effective amount of time (at least 2 minutes per session)
Electric toothbrushes are more effective in reducing plaque by over 20%. But they may not be as convenient in every situation, as they require charging before use.
Another downside of electric toothbrushes is that they’re more expensive than manual ones. But buying the ones with a detachable head can cut down your costs, as you’ll only need to replace the heads.
Even manual toothbrushes are successful in keeping your teeth and gums clean, they simply require more effort to use. Whichever type you prefer, the essential thing is to ensure you’re brushing your teeth regularly and taking good care of your toothbrushes.
Brush Your Way to a Healthier You
How often you change your toothbrush makes a big difference in your oral health. Regularly swapping out your brush keeps you healthy and ensures that your brushing is effective.
Another great way to maximize your oral health and keep ailments at bay is to schedule routine dental appointments with the professionals at Access Health Dental.
We’re proud to offer preventative, restorative, and emergency care for families in the Southern Nevada area.