Posted .

If you are taking good care of your teeth and gums, you are brushing and flossing diligently every day. This helps to remove bacteria that cause plaque and helping to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Proper care of your toothbrush is vital to caring for your oral health.

As your mouth is home to millions of microorganisms, they are easily transferred to your toothbrush. Not only that, but as your toothbrush cleans your mouth, it can become contaminated by saliva, blood, oral debris and toothpaste. Rinse your toothbrush well with warm water after each use.

According to the American Dental Association, toothbrushes should be replaced every three to four months (or sooner if you habitually chew on the bristles, fraying them) and cleaning it once a week. Both the ADA and the Council on Scientific Affairs recommend the following for the care of your toothbrush:

Don’t share! It is unsafe to exchange body fluids and bacteria, especially if you have a weakened immune system or one of you has an infectious disease.

Once you finish brushing your teeth, it should be stored in a place that allows it to stand upright and preventing the bristles from touching other surfaces. You want the bristles to air dry until your next use. If you are sharing a receptacle with others, do not let the bristles touch each other, to avoid cross-contamination.

Even though there are products available that cover your toothbrush and you might think they would be useful for keeping germs off your toothbrush, the ADA actually advises against using them. A closed container allows the toothbrush to retain moisture, making it a breeding ground for microorganisms. Unless you are traveling, allowing your toothbrush to air dry is safer for day-to-day use.

As you use your toothbrush, eventually the bristles will fray and wear down. Once they lose their shape their effectiveness at cleaning is reduced. Check them periodically and replace your toothbrush when this occurs so that your teeth are properly cleaned.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, advises against disinfecting your toothbrush in the dishwasher or microwave as they damage the toothbrush, reducing its effectiveness. Instead, clean your toothbrush by soaking it in antibacterial mouthwash once a week to help reduce germs.

We hope this helps you take care of your toothbrush as you take good care of your oral health! If you have any questions please call our dental team at DM Family Dentistry at 773.252.5757.