Your toothbrush is one of the cheapest, yet most important beauty tools you own. We all know it’s critical to brush our pearly whites at least twice daily, but how many of us are storing and caring for our toothbrushes in a way that ensures they are in tip-top shape when we need them? We spoke with dental experts who set the record straight about properly caring for your toothbrush.
Q: What should you do with a toothbrush immediately after use?
A. “Rinse your toothbrush off under water after use and hang it dry; ideally the bristles should not be in contact with anything and suspended in air,” says Dr. Ramzi Matar of Winter Park Family Dentistry. “If a toothbrush holder is not available there are many DIY holders people can make. The simplest way to make a toothbrush holder is to use a clothes hanger or tennis ball (but you can also look online for tons of creative ideas).”
Dr. Greg Cumberford, who set up a dental program on a mobile dental bus that gives free dentistry to children in need adds, “What I recommend to patients is to thoroughly rinse the toothbrush with water after brushing. What this does is it removes any excess toothpaste, as well any food or bacteria that was cleaned off.”
Q: Should you store it covered or open?
A: “The American Dental Association recommends that we store the brush in an upright position, and definitely do not store in a cover or closed container,” Dr. Cumberford says. “A closed container can be moist, as the toothbrush has yet to dry, and is more likely for additional bacteria growth than if in open air. I also tell patients to keep the brushes separated, if more than one brush is being stored.”
Dr, Matar adds, “If you’re traveling, you should keep your toothbrush covered to protect the bristles.”
Q: Should you dry your toothbrush after using it?
A: “You should always rinse your toothbrush and let it air dry after each use,” Matar says.
Q: Is it necessary to rinse it in water before using it?
A: “There’s no need to rinse your toothbrush with water before using it–one less step,” Matar says.
Q: Should you store a toothbrush in a rack or keep it in a drawer/cabinet?
A: “The best place to store your toothbrush is in an open air environment to dry, ideally more than four feet from toilet bowl,” Matar says.
Q: How often should you replace toothbrushes?
A:” You should replace your toothbrush every six months, and/or after you’ve been sick or had the flu, etc.,” Matar says.
Q: Are all toothbrushes created equally or are some better for teeth?
A: “Always use a soft toothbrush. I’ve never known a good reason to use medium or hard brushes,” Matar says. “My favorite brush currently is the Nimbus compact: it’s ultra-soft, feels great to brush with and is easy on teeth. It’s the brush I use myself!”
Cumberford says he is a fan of electric toothbrushes. “With proper homecare one can go their whole lifetime without a cavity if you’re brushing and flossing with the correct technique,” he says. “I do like electric toothbrushes, though, for a few reasons and recommend them to my patients. They are consistent. No matter how good or bad of a day you’re having, an electric toothbrush still does that same job, and often at a higher RPM. Many electric toothbrushes ‘stop’ brushing if you press too hard, helping protect the gums from overbrushing–most electric toothbrushes have a 2 minute timer. Have you ever tried brushing your teeth for the full 2 minutes? It’s long! With an electric toothbrush, you press the button and you brush until you stop. There is no guesswork. There are a number of good electric toothbrushes on the market, including Sonicare and Oral B.”