Your toothbrush spends around four minutes a day in your mouth, so you need to make sure it’s clean and stored properly, and know when to retire it. Dr. James P. Furgurson and Dr. Nathan O. White of Chapel Hill, NC encourage you to take a look at the do’s and don’ts of how to care for your toothbrush so you can keep your smile healthy.
Rinse the toothbrush thoroughly with tap water after use. Leaving toothpaste residue on the toothbrush is leaving behind oral bacteria and plaque that was just removed from your teeth. Rinsing it makes sure that nothing gets caked on the toothbrush and it’s clean for the next use.
Store your toothbrush upright and open to the air to dry. If you’re about to travel, make sure your toothbrush dries out before putting it in your travel bag. This allows excess water to dry off so there won’t be any mildew or bacteria growth. Plus, some bacteria die when exposed to air, so let the brush air dry.
Replace the toothbrush every 3 to 4 months, or at the latest, at the same time as your six-month dental cleaning and checkup. If you notice bristles fraying, coming off, or bending, replace the brush when that happens.
Don’t sanitize the toothbrush in mouthwash or any other sanitizing agent. This is unnecessary and poses a risk to your health because chemicals can be quickly absorbed through the gums. Allowing the brush to air dry is enough to kill bacteria that die when exposed to air.
Don’t share toothbrushes. Sharing toothbrushes allows for the transfer of bacteria to others, risking not only your oral health, but the other person’s as well.
Don’t store your toothbrush in a closed container. While you may have heard that you should protect your toothbrush from airborne particles from flushing the toilet, storing it in an air-tight or closed environment actually makes it easier for bacteria to grow.
That being said, don’t store the toothbrush too close to the toilet. Germs indeed go airborne after flushing, so make sure the toothbrush is as far away from the toilet as you can while still keeping it open to the air.
Toothbrushes don’t need special cleaning in order to keep them sanitary. Simply rinsing them after use and allowing them to air dry is enough to keep your smile clean and healthy – just make sure you replace them regularly.