Ever wonder if your toothbrush was getting, well, long in the tooth? There's also a good chance you don't know when you last bought a new toothbrush. Like everything else in life, toothbrushes eventually wear out with constant use, leaving it less effective at cleaning teeth.
Knowing when to let good of your old toothbrush can be hard, especially if don't know what to look for in an aging toothbrush. The following pointers can help you keep a bright and beautiful smile by maintaining and replacing your toothbrushes in a timely manner.
When to Let Go
According to the American Dental Association, you should replace your toothbrush every three months. If you use an electric toothbrush, then you should toss the brush head at the same interval. This will help you avoid wear issues that could make your brush less effective at preventing tartar and plaque buildup.
If you don't replace your toothbrush every three months as per ADA recommendations, then you should at least replace it with every dentist check-up. This works if you see your dentist on a six-month basis. Once you get comfortable with this schedule, you can start replacing your brush midway prior to the next scheduled check-up.
Another good idea involves timing your toothbrush replacement with the changing of the seasons. This is perhaps the easiest way of remembering when you should replace your brushes. By timing your replacements to the first day of each season, you can still toss your old brushes according to ADA recommendations.
Wear and Tear
Keep in mind that your toothbrush might wear out if you're a bit heavy-handed with your brushing. You might also find yourself replacing toothbrushes a bit sooner if you use soft bristles instead of medium or hard bristles. If you start seeing your bristles splay outward in all directions, then its way past time to replace your toothbrush.
Some toothbrushes actually feature wear indicators that let users know when it's time for a replacement. This feature works if you tend to be a bit forgetful about replacing your toothbrush when recommended.
What About After a Cold or Illness?
After a nasty cold, flu or other type of illness, you're probably wondering if you should give your old brush the heave-ho. After all, you're probably imagining it's become a vector for contagious germs. However, you have a lot less to worry about than you think.
While it's true that your toothbrush could be teeming with germs, there's not much to worry about as long as you dry it out in between uses. Since most microorganisms prefer dark, damp quarters, letting your brush air-dry can help deny germs the productive environment they crave. You'll also want to avoid storing your toothbrush in air-tight containers, since germs can also flourish in those environments.
Here are a couple of other ways you can prevent germs from taking up residence on your toothbrush:
- Give your toothbrush a good 10-minute soak in a small container of mouthwash or diluted hydrogen peroxide. Both offer the antiseptic properties needed to kill germs.
- If you don't have either of the above, you can also soak your toothbrush in alcohol. It works just like mouthwash, except you'll need to give your toothbrush a good rinsing afterwards to get rid of the taste.
- You can also dip your toothbrush in a small pot of boiling water to get rid of germs. Drop your toothbrush in the pot, let it rest for about 10 seconds and then carefully remove the toothbrush with a pair of tongs.
In short, you don't have to replace your toothbrush after a cold or illness. That is, unless you just don't feel comfortable with your old brush. Check out sites like http://www.claremontdentalinstitute.com to find dentists who can give you more information.