As you know, good oral hygiene is critical, both for adults and children! The habits you teach your children now, like brushing and flossing twice daily, will hold them in good stead throughout their lifetime. But did you know that regularly replacing toothbrushes is critical for good oral hygiene? It seems logical, yet many parents aren’t sure when a new toothbrush is in order. This article will help you with that!
Let’s Start with Toothbrush Maintenance
Toothbrush maintenance is a thing? Yes, it is! Keeping the surface of your family’s toothbrush heads free of germs and bacteria is important, as bacteria can affect your entire family’s oral and general health.
- Teach your kids to wash their hands before brushing to limit the amount of bacteria on the brush handle that easily travels onto the brush head.
- Avoid re-using the same cup to rinse after brushing. Use small paper cups that you can toss into the recycling bin after each use. Again, this limits bacterial hangers-on.
- After each brushing session, thoroughly “shake” the brush under cold running water to remove surface bacteria and food particles.
- Store toothbrushes upright so they will dry quickly.
- Do not store toothbrushes in toothbrush covers. Doing so traps in moisture, contributing to bacterial growth.
- Keep brushes away from toilets. Studies show that flushing an open toilet literally sends bacteria flying in at least a 6’ radius.
- If you use a toothbrush holder, be sure multiple brushes aren’t touching one another as this contributes to cross-contamination of the brush heads. In other words, if Susie has a cold or a case of strep, others in the family will more easily “catch it” if other toothbrushes are close enough to share those germs.
- Speaking of sharing: Never share a toothbrush. Ever. It’s better to miss a brushing session than to introduce someone else’s oral germs into your mouth.
- Keep extra brushes around for the occasional overnight guest and for easy replacements every 3 months and/or after an illness.
When To Replace Toothbrushes
When kids come for their 6-month visits, we always give away a free toothbrush. While this is helpful, it’s actually less often than optimal, as the lifespan of a toothbrush is shorter than you might think. This is particularly true for children, as they are often rough on bristles. As the bristles wear down, the amount of plaque removal goes down with it.
- At a minimum, replace toothbrushes every 3 months or when you notice the bristles are flattening (whichever comes first).
- Match up toothbrush switch-outs to changes in seasons to make it easy to remember.
- Replace manual toothbrushes after each cold or bacterial infection (such as strep). This is a lot of replacing, right? But manual toothbrushes are fairly inexpensive and this will reduce reintroduction of the germs and/or bacteria your child had in his mouth during an illness.
- If you use electric toothbrushes, the cost of replacing the toothbrush heads can be expensive. You can sterilize the toothbrush head by soaking it overnight in antibacterial mouthwash or hydrogen peroxide. Use a separate cup for each toothbrush head. Be sure to disengage the detachable head from the toothbrush handle before soaking and rinse it before reapplying it to the handle.
Want to learn more? iSmileKids is a lower Manhattan pediatric dental provider for infants, children and adolescents, including those with special needs. We serve patients throughout the NYC metro and the tri-state. Our pediatric dentist is a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry and has had extensive training in meeting the unique needs of children. If your child hasn’t seen the dentist in the past 6 months, call us today at 212-267-0029 for an appointment!