Virtually everyone has at least one toothbrush. You may have an extra for travel or for the downstairs bathroom — or even have a collection of retired toothbrushes repurposed as cleaning utensils.
However, the most important brush is the one you’ll use twice today, for two minutes each time, if you follow the American Dental Association’s (ADA) guidelines. The ADA also recommends using a soft-bristled brush.
Brushing correctly is a key part of your oral health routine, which also includes two visits a year to RR Dentistry in Georgetown, Texas, for checkups and cleaning. Home care isn’t enough to stay ahead of plaque formation and gum disease if it starts to take hold. Likewise, our job becomes more difficult if your toothbrush isn’t up to its cleaning tasks as intended.
Is your toothbrush doing its job? Here’s what you need to know.
The replacement game
If there’s one thing everyone should know about toothbrushes, it’s that you need to replace them regularly. Bristles on a new brush remove plaque and food debris efficiently, as they’re designed to do.
However, that brushing action causes bristles to wear down and fray. Not only does your brush become less effective over time, it has more spaces for bacteria to collect. These bacteria aren’t known to be a serious adverse health factor. However, a clean brush is a priority for many and therefore frequent replacement feels right.
The ADA recommends that you replace your toothbrush every three to four months, or more often if bristles become visibly frayed. You can change an occasional-use brush, such as a travel brush, less often, but keep its effective life at six months or less for hygiene reasons.
Sterilizing your toothbrush
Though brush-borne bacteria aren’t a serious problem, you may still wish to sanitize your brush from time to time. Use a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution or a sterilizing mouthwash to neutralize up to 85% of the bacteria that call your toothbrush home.
Don’t use the dishwasher or a microwave oven to sterilize your brush. These could leave chemicals behind, loosen bristles, or melt your brush.
Manual vs. powered brushes
It doesn’t matter if you prefer a powered brush over its manual cousin. When used properly, each is adept at removing debris and plaque while positively stimulating blood flow in your gums.
People with dexterity problems or with brushing challenges like braces may find that electric brushes help them clean their teeth more effectively. Powered brush heads follow the same replacement rules as manual toothbrushes.
The team at RR Dentistry highly recommends the Oral B electric toothbrush with a pulsating, rotating brush head that breaks up plaque and sweeps it away. We also recommend the Sonicare brush because it’s gentle on gums — helpful for patients who brush hard as well as those with gum sensitivity or gum recession.
Wetting the brush before use
Some experts recommend using a dry brush when you start brushing, because wetting may weaken the bristles. Others say that good brushing technique and elements like choice of toothpaste are more important than dry or wet brush techniques. Until there’s more research on the subject, use your method of choice.
You can learn more about brushes and brushing techniques by talking with the dental care professionals at RR Dentistry. We’re happy to answer your questions and offer tips to help you improve your home oral care routine. Call or click today to schedule your next visit.