This week many of our Placerville dental patients have enjoyed a really big meal. To accomplish any major task, you need the right tools. Flimsy plastic forks and wimpy paper plates are no way to tackle a major culinary experience. Afterwards, the same principle applies. You still need the right tool to push away the corn on the cob stuck between your teeth, the turkey jammed behind a molar and the sugar hidden in the crevices of your enamel. You need a quality toothbrush! What shape is your toothbrush in right now?
The Effective Toothbrush
As we wrote in our article on fluoride and your toothbrush, cleaning your teeth is just one responsibility for this common hygiene tool. It also needs to effectively reach between gaps and crevices to spread fluoride over your teeth to restore your enamel and to eliminate your bacterial enemies. Worn out toothbrushes just don’t do a good job. They need to be replaced!
The Clean Toothbrush
Another thing to think about when it comes to toothbrushes is the contamination factor. Face it, there are bacteria on your toothbrush. You can certainly keep it cleaner by rinsing it in water, mouthwash, or other germ killers. Most of the time, that’s enough to keep the bristles clean enough to be healthy. If you were recently sick, however, changing your toothbrush may limit the spread of the infection to others and any reinfection when you brush your teeth.
When to Change Your Toothbrush
When should you change your toothbrush? The American Dental Association says that changing your toothbrush every three to four months is the best policy. Always check your bristles. If they’re spread out in every direction, as in the picture above, you have been using that toothbrush for too long. For electric toothbrushes, follow the specific recommendations from your manufacturer, as their brushes last longer.
Most important is to always use a soft bristle toothbrush, as that is best for your gums. The relative cost of a toothbrush is so low that it’s better to err on the side of having a more effective hygiene tool than saving a few cents by using an old brush a few weeks longer. Keep in mind that using this simple tool regularly is the best way to avoid future dental expenses from gum disease and tooth decay. In coming articles, the Placerville Dental Group will discuss cleaning your toothbrush, the differences between electric and manual toothbrushing and the next step in cleaning your teeth — flossing!