Comfort and familiarity are common reasons why people sometimes stay in relationships, and they’re also used as justifications for not replacing a toothbrush. But while it’s great that individuals feel a connection with their trusty toothbrush, holding on to it for too long poses a number of health risks. After all, we’re not talking about a snug pair of old sneakers here. When it’s been in use for too long, a toothbrush can become infected with bacteria, fungi, pathogens, and disgusting bathroom particles, and you’re putting those right into your mouth. As well, worn-out bristles fail to adequately clean the teeth or remove plaque, and may even do more harm than good. Thankfully, this is a simple problem to overcome. Here are three signs that will help you recognize when it’s time to retire that old toothbrush.
Industry standards call for toothbrushes to be replaced every 12 to 16 weeks. That works out to about every three months, and an easy way to remember when it’s time for a new brush is to get on a seasonal schedule. If you replace old toothbrushes on the first day of a new season, you’ll already be on a path to healthier teeth. So, spring into improved dental health this March by changing your toothbrush on the first day of spring.
Have You Been Sick?
If you brushed your teeth while sick with the flu or even just a common cold, those germs will be present on your toothbrush. Continuing to use that brush will reintroduce the germs into your body, putting you at risk for reinfection. Always replace a toothbrush after you’ve been sick. Even if you’ve been healthy but your brush is in close quarters to that of a sick family member’s, you should get a replacement. It also is advised to switch toothbrushes if yours has been used by another individual, whether they’ve been sick or not. Any germs they have, as well as the millions of bacteria present in their mouth, will collect on your brush, ready to infect your mouth upon using it.
Check the Bristles
Soft bristles are preferred for optimal cleaning, but as a toothbrush wears down, those bristles stiffen and fray. Once damaged, they are unable to effectively remove plaque, which could put you on a path toward gingivitis. Toothbrush bristles also are specifically designed to clean around the teeth and gums, and when overuse causes the bristles to become crooked and pushed out of place, your mouth is no longer benefitting from the necessary level of cleaning. Make a point of always reviewing the condition of the top of the bristles, but keep an eye on the base, too. Oftentimes, food and other debris gets jammed in between bristles where it remains even after repeated rinsing, and that is another indication that it is time for a toothbrush replacement.
If you’re unsure when you last changed toothbrushes, or if you’re worried that the bristles might be showing signs of wear, do the smart thing and get a replacement. And remember, if you have any questions about your oral health, you can always call Ellicott Mills Dental. We’re accepting new patients, so schedule an appointment for a dental cleaning and oral hygiene checkup today!