I can’t fool you. As a mom of 5, I have obviously found a toddler or two running around with my toothbrush. Oh don’t get me wrong, they weren’t sticking it in their mouth or anything — usually just sticking it in the toybox full of goobered toys or dropping it in the toilet or even brushing their doll’s hair. – lol – When you’re a mom, you change your toothbrush often. It’s just the way it is. But I wonder, did you realize you shouldn’t be waiting for your dentist to hand you a new brush, every six months? Toilets and doll hair aside, you should really be changing your toothbrush every three to four months, or even sooner, if the bristles become frayed (or you have a toddler 🙂 ).
According to the American Dental Association, the human mouth harbors hundreds of different microorganisms. So, your toddler may not be the only one you’re sharing your toothbrush with. Normally, the body is able to defend itself against germs and organisms that may cause infections or illness because of all the awesome natural defenses that God has built right into our immune systems. None of the ADA’s research has found any conclusive evidence that the bacteria growing in toothbrushes could cause systemic or oral health complications, but yikes! Just knowing that there are microorganisms and bacteria growing in my toothbrush sort of gives me the heebie jeebies. I definitely don’t want to give them a chance to colonize for extended periods of time, so every three month it is!
Fortunately, the ADA does have some recommendations for taking care of your toothbrushes that will minimize and help with bacterial growth.1
- Do not share toothbrushes. Sharing a toothbrush could result in an exchange of body fluids and/or microorganisms between the users of the toothbrush, placing the individuals involved at an increased risk for infections. This practice could be a particular concern for persons with compromised immune systems or existing infectious diseases.
- Thoroughly rinse toothbrushes with tap water after brushing to remove any remaining toothpaste and debris. Store the brush in an upright position if possible and allow the toothbrush to air-dry until used again. If more than one brush is stored in the same holder or area, keep the brushes separated to prevent cross-contamination.
- Do not routinely cover toothbrushes or store them in closed containers. A moist environment such as a closed container is more conducive to the growth of microorganisms than the open air.
- Replace toothbrushes at least every 3–4 months. The bristles become frayed and worn with use and cleaning effectiveness will decrease. Toothbrushes will wear out more rapidly depending on factors unique to each patient. Check brushes often for this type of wear and replace them more frequently if needed. Children’s toothbrushes often need replacing more frequently than adult brushes.
There are all kinds of ideas for cleaning toothbrushes, floating around the Internet, but the ADA doesn’t really recommend actions like microwaving the toothbrush or running it through your dishwasher as a means of sterilization. Both of these can actually damage the brush and reduce it’s life span. Some common sense precautions are all that are necessary for keeping your toothbrush healthy for your mouth, remembering to replace it every 3 to 4 months being at the top of that list. You could also rinse or soak it in an antibacterial mouth rinse. Beyond that, following the care instructions listed above are the best options.
In the interest of health and better brushing, we have purchased Arm & Hammer Spinbrush ProClean Toothbrushes for our entire family. Replacement heads are no more costly than a manual toothbrush and I definitely know that our teeth are cleaned better with the dual action of those brush heads, which I can easily switch out, every three months. It’s a good common sense approach to our oral hygiene and toothbrush care.
How often do you switch out your family’s toothbrushes? Leave a comment below, with your answer, and you’ll be entered to win a $25 VISA Gift card!
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how often do you change out your family’s toothbrushes? Leave your answer in a comment below.
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1American Dental Association. Statement on Toothbrush Care: Cleaning, Storage and Replacement. [Online] Available http://www.ada.org/1887.aspx, November 2005.
This is a sponsored post for Church & Dwight Co., Inc, the maker of ARM & HAMMER branded products, who is compensating me to try different products. Get a $4.00 coupon for ARM & HAMMER Spinbrush then head over to The Switch & Save Challenge where you can enter to win $25,000.