New Year, New Brush! Simple Dental Health Resolutions for 2022

2022-01-17T16:46:13+00:00January 14th, 2022|Toothbrush Hygiene|

Best Toothbrush Advice

It’s a new year, and what better resolution than to up your dental health game? If you practice proper dental hygiene, you’re likely used to brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing once a day. But when was the last time you changed your toothbrush? 

If it has been longer than three months, it’s time to replace it. If you can’t remember the last time you had a new brush, then you might want to stop what you’re doing and head to the nearest store this instant!

Brushing is key to basic dental hygiene, but if you’re using an old brush with accumulated bacteria, it can lead to a range of problems. Below, Adam Brown DDS gives you some essential toothbrush guidance to kick off 2022!

 

How Often Should You Replace Your Toothbrush?     

There can be a few different reasons for changing out your toothbrush, but dental experts generally recommend replacing it at least every three months. That includes both traditional toothbrushes and electric brush heads. Other ways to think about it are four times a year or one brush per season. Many people get one toothbrush for winter, spring, summer, and fall, making it easier to remember to replace their brush every three months. 

It’s essential to replace your toothbrush anytime you notice the bristles fraying. A toothbrush consists of more than a simple scrub brush. Look at the head closely, and you will see little groups of bristles that vary in size, length, and color. Each manual and electric toothbrush head is designed to clean specific areas of your mouth. 

Your toothbrush’s lifespan will factor in that you are brushing twice a day for two minutes. Each time you brush your teeth, it wears down the brush head, and the friction eventually impacts how well your toothbrush cleans your mouth. Along with the accumulation of bacteria, this wear and tear are why most people should throw out their toothbrushes after three months.

However, that is just a general guideline; each individual will have unique needs. It comes down to your specific brushing habits. For example, if you brush after every meal, you can expect your brush head to wear down quicker than someone who only brushes twice a day. 

Your brush head can also wear out faster if you brush harder than average or if your teeth are crooked. These days, most electric toothbrush heads have indicators to show how much wear has occurred and when to replace your brush head, and some manual toothbrushes also have this feature. If you use an electric toothbrush, check with the manufacturer to see if they offer a subscription service, which would mean you get brush heads sent to your home every few months. 

 

What If It Hasn’t Been 3 Months?      

Ideally, you will change your toothbrush at least every three months, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t replace it sooner. As mentioned above, several factors can require you to get a new toothbrush more often than the general recommendation. Here are some signs to look out for that indicate you should throw out your toothbrush:

The Bristles Are Splayed

Look at your toothbrush, particularly the bristles. Are they splayed out in different directions? Does the toothbrush look flattened, as if you use it as a housecleaning tool? If so, you might be brushing your teeth harder than you should, and the extra force is causing the bristles to splay out all over the place. 

Yes, you should throw that toothbrush out, but you may also want to evaluate how hard you are brushing because it could damage your teeth and gums.

If the bristles on your toothbrush are splayed out, they will not be able to clean your teeth and gums effectively.

Using less pressure and lightning your grip can help. The key is to allow the bristles to do the work for you 

Brushing too hard can cause gum recession, damaged enamel, and other issues. Be mindful of brushing with the appropriate pressure, and see if your toothbrush lasts for three months this time around!

 

Wear and Tear on Your Brush Head

How to Know When to Replace your Toothbrush

Each time you use it, assess your brush head so you can see when it starts to deteriorate. Keep a close eye on the bristles; if they are not tough and springy, it is probably time to get a new brush head. The bristles should be soft but resilient enough to take care of plaque and food particles. 

Also, the strands on your brush head should bounce back after each brushing session. If the bristles are not stiff and straight after you brush, you should replace them as soon as possible. 

Another thing to look for is cleanliness. Neglecting to rinse your toothbrush after each session can result in toothpaste residue building up at the handle or base of the bristles. Consequently, the gunk can attract bacteria and potentially cause sickness. In other words, change out your toothbrush the moment it doesn’t look fresh. 

 

You’ve Been Sick 

Any time you have been ill, throw your toothbrush out immediately. The germs on your toothbrush will stick around and can re-infect you even as you recover. This is especially a problem if antibiotics are required to remedy your illness.

Most doctors that you recommend replace your toothbrush after one or two days after beginning your prescription.

Though it might be easy enough when using a manual brush, it can be more painful to toss an almost-new electric toothbrush head! Nonetheless, get rid of it because it is not worth getting sick all over again.

 

Why Replace Your Toothbrush Regularly?      

Each toothbrush is designed to effectively clean your teeth and gums so that you maintain good dental and overall health. Even the cheaper manual brushes have specially-designed bristles to reach specific areas of your teeth and gums. If the bristles are worn out or dirty, the toothbrush cannot do its job. It’s critical to replace your manual toothbrush or electric brush head when you notice wear and tear or the brush getting gunky.  

Germs are another big reason for replacing your toothbrush regularly. After all, the entire purpose of brushing your teeth is to eliminate the food particles and bacteria that cause plaque and tartar. 

Your toothpaste traps some of your oral bacteria, which you rinse out of your mouth during each brushing session. However, some of the bacteria stick to your toothbrush head and can accumulate over three months.

Also, the slightest wear on a brush head will prevent the bristles from doing their job. This is especially true for electric toothbrushes since the strands are more engineered and shorter. If you continue to brush with worn bristles that cannot properly clean your teeth, it can lead to plaque buildup and eventually gum disease. 

Furthermore, if your bristles are frayed, it can damage the gum tissue and lead to sore gums and bleeding. And, of course, failing to replace your toothbrush can make you sick. Rather than expose yourself to the buildup of bacteria, mold, and fungus, just get a new brush!

 

Remembering to Replace Your Toothbrush Head      

So, you’re convinced to replace your toothbrushes or brush heads regularly. But if you are like many other people, you might have a hard time remembering to make the change. Fortunately, you can do a few things to stay on top of your replacements. 

For instance, you can write a reminder on a paper calendar or use an automatic reminder on your smartphone. That way, no matter what you are doing on any given day, you will have a visual reminder that it’s time to throw away your toothbrush or snap on a new brush head. 

Also, consider using color-changing brush heads. Many electric toothbrushes (and some manual toothbrushes) feature bristles that change colors when it is time for a replacement. This is perhaps the easiest way to remember when to change your toothbrush or brush head!

Another strategy is to buy it in bulk. If you prefer manual toothbrushes, you can find packs of three or more toothbrushes in almost every major retailer or pharmacy. Similarly, you can stock up on brush head refills to keep in your home. Then, you will always have a replacement when the time comes. Just don’t store your extra brush heads or toothbrushes somewhere you will forget; not being able to find your replacement can lead to frustration and procrastination!

Moreover, if you use an electric toothbrush, see if your manufacturer provides a brush head replacement plan. This type of subscription will keep replacements coming to your door when you need them most and remind you it’s time to change them.

 

How to Clean Your Toothbrush in the Meantime 

You know to change out your toothbrush regularly, but how can you keep it clean in the meantime? After all, you don’t let your bath towel or sweatshirt go unwashed for three months, so why should you do that with your toothbrush? If you want to take your dental health to the next level, consider creating a weekly routine for cleaning your toothbrush. 

 

Run Your Toothbrush Through the Dishwasher    

Yes, it’s OK to put your toothbrush in the dishwasher! Place your brush in your dishwasher’s utensil container and run it through a cycle with your dishes. In most cases, the water temperature in a regular cycle will not damage the plastic on your brush, but if you are worried about it, you might want to lower the temperature. That way, you can ensure that your toothbrush won’t warp or melt.

 

Put It in Boiling Water

You may not want to do this every week because boiling water can damage plastic over time. But it can also do an excellent job eliminating bacteria buildup. All you have to do is boil water in a small pot and hold your toothbrush head in the water for about three minutes. Once you sterilize the toothbrush, rinse it under cold water and wait a few minutes before using it.

 

Use a UV Sanitizer 

UV sanitizers can be pretty expensive, but they are highly effective at killing bacteria. Quality sanitizers can eliminate millions of bacteria in a few minutes, keeping your brush clean and your stress levels low. UV sanitation is so reliable and effective that medical facilities use it to kill germs. And there are quite a few excellent in-home sanitizers available. 

 

Clean It With Mouthwash

One of the easiest ways to clean your toothbrush or brush head is to pour antibacterial mouthwash or rubbing alcohol into a small cup and soak the brush head for a few minutes. You can complete this process before or after brushing. 

Along with keeping the bacteria at bay, using mouthwash on your toothbrush will keep it smelling fresh! However, one thing to remember is never to use your toothbrush until you have rinsed away the mouthwash or alcohol.

 

Store It Properly    

It may not be the first thing you consider when you think of your dental health, but where you store your toothbrush matters. Rather than keeping it near the toilet or in an enclosed space like a cupboard or medicine cabinet, place your toothbrush upright in a holder or cup in the open air so that water can drip away while you are not using it. Your brush needs to dry as it will help reduce bacteria buildup. 

Another tip is to use a lid for your brush head, as it can help the bacteria from accumulating on the bristles. Moreover, don’t store your toothbrush with anyone else’s because cross-contamination can occur. And if you use a toothbrush lid, holder, or cup, be sure to clean them regularly to prevent bacteria buildup on those pieces too.

 

Conclusion      

The beginning of a new year is ideal for taking your dental health routine to the next level! And one of the most practical ways you can do that is to make sure you replace your toothbrush or brush head every three months

If you need help remembering to change your brush out, consider setting reminders, subscribing to a service that will send brush head replacements, or buying in bulk. Also, create a cleaning routine so that your toothbrushes stay fresh. And, of course, don’t hesitate to contact Adam Brown DDS if you need to book an appointment!

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The Germs on Your Toothbrush (and How to Brush More Effectively)

2021-04-13T18:01:00+00:00April 13th, 2021|Toothbrush Hygiene|

Hidden Germs on Your Toothbrush

Brushing your teeth is the most essential practice of an oral health routine. Most of us know this because we are taught at a young age to brush twice a day. But besides the act of brushing itself, there are other factors involved in a proper brushing routine. 

For example, what if the toothbrush you’re using could be causing more harm than good? There are millions of bacteria on the average toothbrush, including E. coli, Staph, and many others. In fact, the water in your toilet often contains fewer germs than your toothbrush. And while not all bacteria are bad, some bacteria are flat-out ugly. Knowing how to to take care of your toothbrush and when to replace it are key to long-term oral health. 

Another question to ask yourself is whether you’re using the right kind of toothbrush. If you want to ensure you are reaching all areas of your mouth and removing plaque effectively and safely, then the type of brush you use is something to be carefully considered. Adam Brown, DDS is here to help you evaluate your brushing routine and, if necessary, determine how you can improve it:

 

Bacteria: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly 

First of all, it can help to understand what kind of bacteria are in our mouths. Experts estimate that 500 to 700 different types of bacteria can live in a person’s mouth; typically, an individual will host 250 to 300 at one time. Some of these bacteria are harmful. If left unaddressed, the bad bacteria can lead to ugly conditions like gum disease and leave you vulnerable to contagious illnesses. 

However, your mouth also contains bacteria that are responsible for promoting your oral health. Here are a few examples of how good oral bacteria fights for you:

 

Mitigating Bad Breath

Studies have shown that if we removed all the bacteria from our mouths, then it could have a negative impact on our oral health. Certain oral bacteria kill other, more offensive bacteria in our mouths. For instance, there are bacteria that survive off of food particles and cause a foul odor (hello, bad breath). Then there are good bacteria like Streptococcus salivarius K12, which help to eliminate the bacteria that cause bad breath. So, if you have a healthy amount of good bacteria, it can help neutralize your breath. 

 

Aiding in Digestion

Digestion consists of the breakdown of proteins and sugars in the food you consume. This process begins in the mouth, and good oral bacteria can help make it more efficient. In fact, healthy bacteria like probiotics can trigger enzymatic reactions in your saliva that kickstart digestion. 

 

Staving Off Disease 

Saliva production is an integral part of oral health. Harmful germs from food particles and sugar can cause a host of oral health issues, and saliva is what removes those bad bacteria from our mouths. Good bacteria from probiotics can increase or maintain your saliva production, in turn reducing the likelihood of periodontal disease, oral candida, and many other problems. 

 

How to Keep Your Toothbrush Clean 

OK, so we’ve discussed how good bacteria can help you maintain oral health. But there is no shortage of bad bacteria out there, many of which end up on your toothbrush. Depending on the study you read, the average toothbrush contains anywhere from 10 million to 100 million bacteria, including E. coli and staphylococci (Staph). 

Whichever side of the spectrum your toothbrush falls on, it’s safe to say that you want to take the necessary steps toward keeping it clean. Here are a few practical ways that you can do that:

 

Keep it Away from the Toilet

The most convenient spot to store your toothbrush may be on the bathroom sink, which is why so many people keep it there. But this also happens to be one of the worst places to store your toothbrush, especially if your sink is in close proximity to your toilet. 

Each time you flush the toilet, fecal bacteria are released into the air. If your toothbrush is sitting out in the open next to the toilet, well, you get the picture. No one wants fecal bacteria finding a new home in the bristles of their toothbrush. Find a spot that isn’t near the toilet, and if possible, store your toothbrush in a medicine cabinet for better protection. Moreover, close the toilet lid before you flush to minimize the circulation of bacteria.

 

Clean Your Toothbrush Holder

Your toothbrush isn’t the only thing catching bacteria in the bathroom. If your toothbrush holder is near the toilet, it’s likely collecting bacteria as well. In fact, toothbrush holders are among the most germ-infested items in the average household. It’s right up there with the kitchen sink and dish sponges! 

You might be thinking you’re going to toss your toothbrush holder right about now. While that’s an option, you can also just clean your toothbrush holder daily to keep the bacteria to a minimum. 

 

Store It Properly

So, you have moved your toothbrush away from the toilet and made your toothbrush holder a part of your regular cleaning routine. Now, there are a few other things you can do to minimize bacteria when you’re not using your toothbrush:

  • Thoroughly rinse your bristles after each use. 
  • Make sure your toothbrush air dries completely between brushes; storing your toothbrush upright in the holder helps with this. 
  • Avoid toothbrush covers, as they inhibit drying and create a breeding ground for bacteria. 
  • Use only your toothbrush, and don’t let anyone else use yours. 
  • Prevent germ swapping by keeping your toothbrush separate from others. 

 

Clean the Bristles 

You know that you should replace your toothbrush every three months, but what about the time between replacements? If you wash your bedding or bath towels more regularly than that, why wouldn’t you take the same precautions for your toothbrush? Fortunately, there are simple ways to clean your toothbrush each week to keep bacteria at bay: 

Rinse with hot water. Before and after each use, run hot water through the bristles of your toothbrush. This will help eliminate any bacteria that has accumulated between brushes, including new bacteria from your most recent use. 

Soak it in mouthwash. After brushing, fill a small cup with an antibacterial mouthwash. Put your toothbrush into the cup head down, and allow it to soak for at least two minutes. This thoroughly cleans your bristles and leaves your toothbrush smelling fresh; the downside, however, is that it can also cause the bristles to wear down faster. 

Boil the bristles. One of the most effective ways to kill bacteria in your bristles is to boil them. But you must use this method with caution because the plastic handle on your toothbrush can easily melt. Heat a small pot or tea kettle on the stove, and once the water is boiling, turn off the burner. Then, dip the head of your toothbrush in the water for about 30 seconds. This will kill most of the bacteria while preventing the plastic from melting.  

Put it in the dishwasher. Just as it works for cleaning your kitchen utensils, a dishwasher is a wonderful device for cleaning and sanitizing your toothbrush. Put your toothbrush in the utensil container, and run it through a cycle with the rest of your dishes. Depending on how hot your dishwasher gets, you may want to adjust the water temperature to avoid melting. 

Use a UV sanitizer. Many medical experts agree that UV sanitizers are the most effective way to eliminate bacteria on utensils. In fact, laboratories and hospitals across the globe use UV sanitation because it has been shown to kill millions of bacteria in minutes. There are several UV sanitizers on the market designed specifically for toothbrushes. These products tend to be a little expensive, but some people consider them worth the investment. 

 

When to Replace Your Toothbrush  

Virtually every dental organization in the world recommends replacing your toothbrush at least every three months. While some people think this is a marketing scheme aimed at selling more toothbrushes, there are legitimate reasons why three months is the standard:

Bacteria. Each time you brush your teeth, new plaque and bacteria get on the toothbrush. It’s only a matter of time until the buildup overtakes the toothbrush, even if you routinely keep your toothbrush clean between uses. 

Bad bristles. Bacteria buildup isn’t the only way your toothbrush is affected over time. Your bristles also become worn out. When this happens, it inhibits you from being able to properly clean your teeth and gums, including the surfaces of your teeth and hard-to-reach areas. Moreover, worn-out bristles are harder on your gums and can cause inflammation and premature gum recession. 

Contamination. Anytime you get sick with a viral infection (e.g., cold, flu, etc.), you should change your toothbrush afterward. The bacteria and viruses can cling to the bristles. If you neglect to replace your toothbrush once you recover, it can cause you to become reinfected or contaminate other people in your household.  

Keep an eye on the bristles in your toothbrush. The harder you brush, the faster they will wear down. So, if you tend to apply a lot of pressure when you brush, you may need to replace your toothbrush more often than every three months. As soon as you begin to notice worn-out bristles or bristles pointing in the wrong direction, get a fresh brush. 

 

Getting the Best Brush for Your Mouth 

Along with keeping your toothbrush clean and replacing it when necessary, it’s essential that you are using the right kind of toothbrush. Here are a couple of factors to consider:

 

Bristles

There are several different types of toothbrush bristles. They come in soft, medium, and hard. Most dentists recommend soft bristles because; they are effective at removing plaque yet less harsh on the teeth and gums than hard or medium bristles. 

You can also choose between rounded and flat-top bristles, as well as those that are uniform and those that vary in lengths and angles. Rounded bristles are most often recommended for the same reasons as soft bristles. And bristles with variations help some people clean their teeth more thoroughly. At the end of the day, however, it really comes down to using a toothbrush that is comfortable, safe, and effective for you. 

 

Manual or Electric 

Another consideration when choosing a toothbrush is whether you want it to be manual or electric. Both types can be effective at removing plaque and promoting oral health. As with bristles, this comes down to preference. As long as you brush twice a day for two minutes with a manual toothbrush, it will work well. But if you are more likely to maintain your oral health routine by using a battery-powered toothbrush, then an electric brush might be the way to go. 

 

Conclusion 

Brushing your teeth is likely such an ingrained habit that you don’t give it much thought outside of the four minutes per day you spend doing it. But there are many things to consider if you want to ensure you are cleaning your teeth and gums as effectively as possible. 

Always keep your toothbrush clean, and replace it at least every three months. Make sure you’re using the right kind of toothbrush for your routine. And remember to call Adam Brown, DDS to schedule an appointment if you have any dental health concerns!

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