A toothbrush is an essential element of the twice daily brushing of your teeth recommended by dentists. This thorough teeth brushing is a must for good dental hygiene and the prevention of cavities and gum disease. If you’re like most people, your toothbrush may have frayed, faded bristles. You probably don’t think twice about the bacteria that is on your toothbrush right now. After all, our mouths are full of bacteria so it makes sense that anything continuously put into it will eventually get covered in them.

Isn’t that why dentists highly discourage the sharing of toothbrushes? Yes. While our bodies have built-in mechanisms to adequately fight against bacteria and infections, they can’t always fight against germs from others. This inability to fight against intruding germs occurs in those who have compromised immune systems and young children.

Another way to combat the germs on your toothbrush is to replace it. Here’s a quick quiz: How often should you change your toothbrush?

  1. Every year
  2. Every 3 months
  3. Every 6 months
  4. Every 3 years

The correct answer is B. It is highly recommended to replace your toothbrush every three months. If you’re like most people, you’ve probably kept your current toothbrush way past this date. Though three months may seem excessive, it is around the three-month mark that the bristles on your toothbrush begin to fray. A toothbrush with frayed bristles is no longer effective at cleaning your teeth and removing cavity causing plaque. If your toothbrush’s bristles are not frayed, it can be a sign that you’re not brushing long or often enough.

Children and those with compromised immune systems should replace their toothbrushes more frequently. To make your toothbrush last, it should be washed thoroughly with water after you brush your teeth. Store your toothbrush in an upright position and allow it to air dry. Storing in a covered space and keeping multiple toothbrushes together are sure ways to spread germs. There are other ideas for cleaning your toothbrush, though they are not backed by research. Some of these remedies may cause further damage to your toothbrush, making more dysfunctional. When in doubt, it is always better to replace your toothbrush with a new one. Toothbrushes aren’t expensive so trying to clean them yourself may not be worth the effort.

Daily teeth brushing with a good, new toothbrush, is just one step in maintaining your dental health. To further prevent cavities, you need to floss regularly, and visit your dentist every six months for a thorough teeth cleaning and dental exam.

At Dr. Brian Britton, our dentists are experienced in a variety of dental services. We enjoy educating our patients about the importance of good oral health and how our patients can do their part to prevent common dental issues such as cavities and gum disease. At Dr. Brian Britton Dentistry, we can’t stress dental hygiene enough. Brushing your teeth isn’t enough. It needs to be supplemented by a thorough cleaning at our office. Contact us today to set up an appointment.