Your toothbrush gets used twice a day, so it’s important to make sure it’s clean and stored properly so your smile stays healthy. Dr. Christopher Banks in Chevy Chase, MD encourages you to take a look at the do’s and don’ts of how to care for your toothbrush so you can keep your smile healthy.
Rinse the toothbrush with tap water after use. If you don’t rinse it well enough, you’re leaving behind more than just toothpaste residue — you’re also leaving behind bacteria that can grow on the toothbrush. Rinsing your toothbrush with plain tap water will remove toothpaste residue and the plaque that you just brushed away.
Store it upright so the water drains off, and make sure it can air dry. The last thing you want is for mildew or additional bacteria to grow on the toothbrush, so don’t lay it flat on the counter after use. Keep the toothbrush open to the air, not face down in a cup, so that bacteria or mildew can’t grow on it.
Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months, or when you start to see bristles fraying or bending. At the absolute latest, replace it every 6 months when you go for your regular dental cleaning. Toothbrushes are designed to be used and discarded, so don’t worry about starting fresh!
Don’t share your toothbrush with someone else. While a good rinse will remove bacteria, there will always be some lingering on the brush. Don’t spread that bacteria to anyone else by sharing a toothbrush.
Don’t sanitize the brush in mouthwash or other sanitizing agents. It’s unnecessary to do any extra cleaning, and it may be poisonous to you. Just rinse it off with tap water to remove toothpaste residue and allow it to air dry, and that’s all the cleaning your toothbrush needs.
Don’t store your toothbrush in a closed container, or even bristle-end down in a cup on your sink. While you may have heard that toothbrushes are exposed to bacteria from the toilet, don’t keep it in a closed container. Your toothbrush won’t fully dry, which encourages mildew and bacteria growth. It’s very important for it to have plenty of air to dry naturally.
That being said, don’t store your toothbrush right next to the toilet. Germs do go airborne during flushing, and they can stick to your toothbrush. Try to store it as far away from the toilet as possible while still allowing it to air dry and stand upright.
Toothbrushes only need to be rinsed and dried after use — no special cleaning required. Your smile will stay healthy as long as you brush regularly, keep the brush clean, and replace it often.