How Often To Change Your Tooth Brush; Choosing The Right Toothbrush; and Manual vs. Electric - So Many Choices....
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this year's flu season is off to a fast start and all indications suggest that it may be more severe than the previous season. If you're one of the many currently suffering from the current flu, you know its a rough one. While many people are stocking their medicine cabinet with cold and sick day supplies, don't forget to add a new toothbrush to your list.
How Often Should You Change Your Toothbrush?
esearchers have established that thousands of microbes can grow on toothbrush bristles and handles. Most are harmless while others can cause cold and flu viruses, the herpes virus that causes cold sores, staphylococcus bacteria responsible for many ear, nose and throat infections, and bacteria that can cause periodontal infections. After a while, toothbrush bristles wear down and become breeding grounds for bacteria. Studies show people can become re-infected with all kinds of bacteria from their own toothbrushes. By replacing their toothbrushes more often, we can prevent a lot of illnesses. When it comes to protecting toothbrushes from germs and bacteria, below is a list of some helpful tips:
- You should replace your toothbrush when it begins to show wear, or every three months, whichever comes first.
- It is also very important to change toothbrushes after you've had a cold since the bristles can collect germs that can lead to re-infection.
- Store the brush somewhere dry, or an open area, not a tightly closed medicine cabinet.
- Don't store brushes together. You may unknowingly cross-contaminate the entire family.
- Do not use hot water to rinse the toothbrush. It will shorten the life of the brush.
- People with gum problems, other oral diseases, or weakened immune systems should change brushes more often.
- People with a respiratory illness or another infectious disease should change brushes at the beginning of the illness, again when they first feel better, and once again when they are well. Toothbrushes should be changed every day for patients who are recovering from major surgery because susceptibility to infections is higher at that time.
Choosing The Right Toothbrush - What Type of Toothbrush Should You Use?
The dental products aisle can be a little overwhelming with endless choices available to us - so many shapes, sizes and styles of toothbrushes on the market shelves, deciding which kind to buy can be confusing and often times difficult to know which ones really are more effective in keeping your oral health in check. Here's what you should look for:
- Most dental professionals agree that a soft-bristled brush is best for removing plaque and debris from your teeth. Small-headed brushes are also preferable since they can better reach all areas of the mouth, including hard-to-reach back teeth.
- When it comes to the type of handle (such as non-slip grip or flexible neck); the shape of the head (tapered or rectangular); and style of bristles (such as rippled, flat or trimmed to a dome shape), pick whatever is most comfortable for you.
- The best toothbrush is one that fits your mouth and allows you to reach all teeth easily. If you don't like it, you won't brush as long as you should (Two (2) minutes). Everyone's mouth is a different size; if in doubt, choose the smaller size.
- Opt for a toothbrush with soft or medium-soft bristles. Unless your dentist has specifically instructed you to purchase a toothbrush with hard bristles, it is unwise to do so since hard bristles combined with hard brushing can damage your gums and the enamel on your teeth. Soft bristles work best for removing plaque and brushing away bacteria.
- Ask your child's dentist which brush is best for your child. Generally, a soft-bristled brush that is ADA-approved is what you should purchase. Have your child choose among the approved ones. Keep in mind that child is likely to brush longer if they choose the toothbrush themselves.
- You may also consider consulting your dentist or hygienist for a recommendation.
Manual vs. Electric - Which Toothbrush is Better?
The most important factor in choosing either a manual or electric toothbrush is to assure that a minimum of "two minutes a day, twice a day" is met every day. The mechanical (electric) toothbrush has a slight edge over the manual toothbrush in reducing dental plaque and gum inflammation, and can also improve recession and sensitivity caused by improper brushing. For those who do not have the dexterity or grip needed to operate a manual toothbrush, an electric toothbrush is a great option as it is easy to hold and takes care of the rotating action for you.
One of the advantages of the manual toothbrushes is that you have more control over the way that you brush your teeth. You can decide how fast and how hard to brush your teeth, gums, cheeks, and tongue. This results in a more comfortable cleaning for those who have sensitive areas in their mouth or who find the constant vibrations of electric toothbrushes to be aggravating. In the end, the most effective tools for cleaning your teeth are the ones that you will use. Manual or electric is simply a matter of personal choice. If you are comfortable with your current oral hygiene regimen, there is probably no reason to alter it. Call your dentist or orthodontist today to schedule a consultation for your specific dental needs.