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Toothbrush Care, Cleaning & Replacement

Proper toothbrush care is important to your oral health because a worn toothbrush is less effective in cleaning. It is recommended that you replace your toothbrush every three to four months or sooner if the bristles become frayed. Children's toothbrushes often need to be replaced more frequently.

Toothbrushes and Bacteria

You may have heard talk about bacterial contamination of toothbrushes and wondered if it is a cause for concern. The mouth harbours hundreds of different types of micro-organisms (germs), some of which are transferred to a toothbrush during use. Micro-organisms in the environment also may become established on stored toothbrush. Toothbrushes may have bacteria on them right out of the box because they are not required to be sold in a sterile package. However, the human body is constantly exposed to potentially harmful microbes and it usually can defend itself against germs and prevent infections.

Although studies have shown that various micro-organisms can grow on toothbrushes after use, evidence is lacking that bacterial growth on toothbrushes will lead to specific health problems.

There is no clinical evidence that soaking a toothbrush in an antibacterial mouthrinse or using a commercially available toothbrush sanitiser has any positive or negative affect on health. Some cleaning methods including use of a dishwater or microwave oven could damage the brush.

Controlling Bacteria on Your Toothbrush

Here are some common sense things you can do:

  • don't share toothbrushes;
  • thoroughly rinse the toothbrush with tap water after use to remove and toothpaste and debris
  • store the toothbrush in an upright position if possible and allow it to air dry - when storing more than one brush, keep them separated so that germs are not transferred from one brush to another.

Don't routinely cover or store toothbrushes in closed containers. A moist environment helps the growth of most germs. For more information, simply visit any Smile participating dentists.

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