We talk a lot about the various preventative measures you can take to ensure a healthy smile, but one superstar rarely gets the spotlight it deserves: your hardworking toothbrush. Do you know how often it should be replaced, how it should be stored, and the difference between sanitizing and sterilizing your brush? If not, now's a great time to learn! Taking care of the tools that you use to take care of your teeth is a must - otherwise you could be wasting effort or even harming your teeth. Here's how to keep that brush in A+ condition for each and every sinkside session:
Let Them "Breathe"
Toothbrushes should always be stored brush-side-up in an open container, as opposed to a closed area like a travel case or a medicine cabinet. This removes the protected, moist environment that bacteria love to thrive on and allows air to circulate when your brush is not in use. If you want to take extra precautions against bacteria, store your toothbrush receptacle as far as possible away from your toilet, and tell your family or roommates to lower the lid when flushing. This will keep certain bacteria and particles from becoming airborne and potentially landing on your brush - ick!
Sharing isn't Caring
Some partners and friends share almost everything - a taste in movies, favorite foods, even a bedroom. There is one thing that should never be shared, no matter how close you are: a toothbrush. The bacteria that cause cavities, among other dental problems, can actually be transferred from person to person when using the same toothbrush. (If you need one of your own, feel free to ask us next time you're in for a checkup!)
Additionally, if you keep all of your brushes in the same place, you may want to rethink that "communal" toothbrush container. In addition to those annoying dental bacteria, it also makes it a lot easier for colds and viruses to run rampant in the family home. If you absolutely need to keep a communal cup, make sure to separate a sick or immuno-compromised family member's brush until he or she is on the mend; they'll likely thank you later!
A Little Maintenance
Once you're done with brushing your teeth - at least twice a day, we hope - make sure to run your brush under running tap water for a few seconds. This will keep the bristles clean and fresh, as well as wash out food particles and other unsavory bits you've just cleaned off your sparkling smile. Per the American Dental Association, you should replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months, or more often if the bristles appear damaged or frayed. A great way to stay on top of this is to stash a few extra brushes in with your toiletries; when your replacement toothbrush is so easy to find, you're less likely to put it off longer than you should.
Your toothbrush is your first line of defense in the fight for healthy teeth: make sure it's "armed and ready" by keeping it in great condition between brushings. If you want a clean, healthy smile, you'd be hard-pressed find a more iconic duo than a well-cleaned toothbrush and regular dental visits, so make sure you're keeping up with both!