Toothbrush Care

Your toothbrush requires more attention than the handful of minutes you spend twice each day using it.

Appropriate toothbrush care and maintenance are important to maintaining good oral hygiene. The American Dental Association has a number of recommendations consumers should heed:

  • Replace your toothbrush about every three to four months. Rougher brushers should replace their toothbrushes sooner if the bristles become frayed.

  • Do not share your toothbrush. This could result in an exchange of body fluids and/or microorganisms between users, placing them at an increased risk for infections. It’s a particular concern for people with compromised immune systems or existing infectious diseases.

  • Thoroughly rinse your toothbrush with tap water after brushing to remove any remaining toothpaste or debris. Store the brush in an upright position if possible and allow the toothbrush to air dry until you use it again. If more than one brush is stored in the same holder or area, keep the brushes separate to prevent cross-contamination.

  • Do not routinely cover toothbrushes or store them in closed containers. A moist environment such as a closed container is more conducive to the growth of microorganisms than the open air.

Following these tips can get you on your way to having a clean, sanitary toothbrush. There is no clinical evidence that soaking a toothbrush in an antibacterial mouth rinse or using a commercially available toothbrush sanitizer has any positive or negative effect on oral or systemic health.

Visit the ADA’s website to learn more about toothbrush care at

© 2017 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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How to FLOSS

  1. Pull 18 to 24 inches of dental floss from the floss dispenser.

  2. Wrap the ends of the floss around your index and middle fingers.

  3. Hold the floss tightly around each tooth in a C shape; move the floss back and forth in a push-pull motion and up and down against the side of each tooth.

How to BRUSH

  1. Place the toothbrush at a 45°angle along the gum line. Move the toothbrush in a back and forth motion, and repeat for each tooth.

  2. Brush the inside surface of each tooth, using the same back and forth technique.

  3. Brush the chewing surface (top) of each tooth.

  4. Use tip of brush to brush behind each tooth — front and back, top and bottom and up and down strokes.

  5. Be sure to brush your tongue to remove odor-causing bacteria.

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