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Is Your Toothbrush Past Its Prime?

All too often we try to get a little extra time from our toothbrushes. This can render them less effective than we would like.


If your toothbrush looks more like the one on the left, it’s time for a change.

Ok.  I want a value too.  And these little guys can get pricey.  But if your toothbrush is at the point when the bristles spread out, and all of the blue indicator dye is gone…  It’s been time to move on for a while.

When your toothbrush becomes permanently deformed like this, the majority of the bristles just aren’t able to do a good job for you.  It’s the spring-back action of the bristles that does most of the work, and when they don’t spring back they might as well be on vacation.  Furthermore, the more bristles that touch the tooth the more plaque they can remove.  Here’s a few ideas to ensure you are getting the maximum benefits from the time you spend brushing.

Random fact: We get a full complement of baby teeth by the time we are 2 years old.  If the average American is now living to about 80 years of age, brushing twice a day for two minutes each day, that means that we spend about 79 days with a brush in our mouth!

  • Once a day, brush with pure baking soda.  It’s a base on the pH scale, so bacteria hate it.  Contrary to what you might think, baking soda is also about 1000x less abrasive than most whitening toothpastes.
  • Speaking of toothpastes, the main purpose of toothpaste is to provide topical fluoride and minty taste. A plain-old minty toothpaste is more than enough, and too often whitening toothpastes don’t offer any real benefit.
  • Brush without toothpaste for the first minute. Sometimes, the minty taste will give us the false impression that all of our teeth are clean. Brush without first, then feel around with your tongue for any areas you may have missed.
  • Keep a manual toothbrush in your rotation. I love my electric toothbrush, but there are areas that I feel I clean more effectively with my manual toothbrush. There’s nothing wrong with having a soft manual toothbrush in your oral hygiene toolbox.
  • Mark the date you opened the toothbrush on the handle, or on a sticky in your medicine cabinet.  That way you know exactly when the recommended 90 day lifespan is up.
  • Many people like to “sterilize” their toothbrushes in the dish washer.  The high heat is more detrimental to the bristles, and will cause it to lose it’s effectiveness sooner. If you don’t like your toothbrush by the toilet, keep them in a drawer.

I hope that I have been of some help with this information.  Please feel free to continue the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram.  I’m always happy to answer any questions!

Until next time,

Dr. Dan

Top image by Daniel Balaze, DMD, FAGD. Not for use without permission under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.