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Time to Switch to a New Toothbrush?

Tania K. Cowling

It's nice to have a decorative holder with pretty toothbrushes on your bathroom vanity, but do you know when it is time to buy a new toothbrush? It may be more often than you think, and not just when you get a free toothbrush after your dental cleaning. Here are some considerations to keep in mind about toothbrushes and dental hygiene.

Toothbrushes Get Old and Frayed

A toothbrush gets a lot of wear and tear, especially if you brush your teeth properly. Round and round and up and down, the bristles get frayed and worn out. When you see the bristles bending over, it is time to purchase a new toothbrush. There are many types of toothbrushes on the market with options such as curved or straight bristles, curved heads and soft or polished bristles. However, the most important feature is that the toothbrush be professionally recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA). That qualification having been met, pick a design that is most comfortable for you. Most dentists recommend a soft-bristled brush that is gentle on the gums. The ADA recommends that you change toothbrushes at least every three to four months.

Replace Your Toothbrush After an Illness

It is wise to replace your toothbrush after suffering from a canker or cold sore. Your trusty toothbrush can harbor bacteria and the herpes virus for days, which may reinfect you. The same goes for a cold or flu virus. The rule of thumb is to replace brushes after any illness. You may have heard that you can disinfect your toothbrush with mouthwash or a special disinfectant prescribed by your dentist. This may work, but there is no solid evidence that it does, and since toothbrushes are not too costly, it may be better simply to replace them. Never try to disinfect your toothbrushes in the dishwasher or microwave; this may ruin the bristles.

Fun Toothbrushes Entice Children to Clean Their Teeth

The ADA states that children may need to get a new toothbrush more often than adults. Colorful toothbrushes and brushes with images of popular characters entice kids to get enthusiastic about brushing their teeth. Why not take your child along with you to the store and let him pick out a favorite brush? Toothbrushes also make awesome favors for birthday parties, Halloween treats and holiday stocking stuffers. Taking care of your teeth on a daily basis with a good toothbrush will give you a lifetime of healthy teeth and a beautiful smile.

Learn more about toothbrush care in the Colgate Oral Care resources.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

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