Thursday, February 5, 2015

Toothbrush truths

Do you have a favorite toothbrush?  Patients often ask me what type or brand of toothbrush to use.  There are so many to choose from!  While I don't endorse any particular brand, here are some guidelines you can use to choose and take care of your toothbrush.

1- Buy a soft or extra-soft toothbrush.  If you find that the bristles seem to wear out quickly or the bristles look frayed you may be pressing too hard when you are brushing.  Remember, teeth need to be brushed gently.  Two minutes of soft brushing is much healthier and more effective at removing plaque than 30 seconds of hard brushing.

2- Replace your toothbrush four times a year.  A good way to remember this is to change it when the seasons change: Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall.  If you are using the same toothbrush when it was 98 degrees out as you are now, you are overdue.

3- There is no need to "wash" your toothbrush with anything.  I've been asked about rinsing or washing them with everything from mouthwash to lemon juice to vinegar.  Mouthwash won't do any harm but definitely no juice or vinegar.  Allow toothbrushes to air dry.

4- Changing your toothbrush after you've been sick is not always necessary.  If you've had a virus you won't reinfect yourself but you could spread your cold to someone else in your family if toothbrushes are stored together.

5- Don't store family members toothbrushes together.  If possible, everyone should have their own cup or holder.

6- If you've had a bacterial infection, like strep throat, go ahead and throw it out, especially if the bristles are worn or frayed.

7- If your toothbrush is in the bathroom, place it inside a cabinet or drawer, as long as it can air dry, away from the toilet.  Flushing the toilet throws germs into the air where they can settle on your toothbrush.

8- Always read the instructions on an electric toothbrush.  Bring your electric toothbrush with you to your next dental hygiene visit so that your hygienist can show you how to use it.

9- Supervise your child's brushing.  It is recommended to do so until the age of nine.  Make sure they brush all the surfaces of the teeth and behind the back molars.  (Not just the smile parts!)

10- Use the right size toothbrush.  Adult toothbrushes are too big for a child's mouth.  Adults who have small mouths may find some toothbrushes to be too big to "fit" around the back teeth, especially the sides of the back teeth.  It's fine to use a toothbrush with a smaller head, especially if it makes you more confident that you are properly brushing your teeth.  Try different ones until you find one you like.

11- If you run out of toothpaste don't skip brushing your teeth.  (Hey, it happens, just like with milk and toilet paper.)  It is proper brushing for 2 minutes that removes the plaque.

12- Don't share your toothbrush.

Happy Brushing!!

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