It's the holiday season, but your toothbrush doesn't look too festive. Do you really know how clean your toothbrush is?
It's hard to swallow but did you know that more than 100 million bacteria including E. coli and staphylococci bacteria lives on your toothbrush?
Thankfully your mouth has both good and bad bacteria living in it, so unless there is an imbalance, the bad bacteria won't make you sick. However, to avoid this imbalance, you do need to take care of your toothbrush.
Oral hygiene is very important in reducing the risk of decay, gum disease and bad breath. The most common way of maintaining oral hygiene is toothbrushing. Not only is choosing the right toothbrush important but the care and maintenance of your tool of choice is also key to improving oral health.
Which toothbrush to use?
Toothbrushes have come a long way—from twigs to boar hairs bristles, to nylon bristles and now even biodegradable bristle brushes. They have also evolved into manual or electric options.
With the wide variety of choices available, what is the best option?
When purchasing a manual toothbrush, always go for an extra-soft or soft-bristled brush. The medium and hard bush bristled brushes can be too harsh for the enamel causing tooth abrasion.
While many believe that hard-handed cleans are better, the opposite is true.
Your technique, force of brushing, frequency of brushing and the hardness of bristles are all factors that affect gum recession in your mouth. It's best to have a circular brushing technique rather than side to side brushing to reduce gum inflammation and tooth abrasion.
Interestingly, when it comes to manual vs electric toothbrushes, research has shown that powered toothbrushes with a rotation oscillation action were more effective at removing plaque and reducing gingivitis than manual brushing.
How to care for your toothbrush
Toothbrushes are sterile after manufacturing but can be contaminated immediately after first use. They become a perfect environment for the transfer, retention and growth of microbes. The bacterial load increases with further uses as bacteria from the mouth are transferred across.
Tips for better brush hygiene
- It's best to rinse your toothbrush with tap water every time you use it.
- Make sure your toothbrush dries thoroughly between use.
- Toothbrush covers may seem like a good idea, but the moist environment can be a breeding ground for bacteria, so it is better to avoid using them.
- Avoid sharing a toothbrush with others (even family members) as it can swap germs.
- Environments that toothbrushes sit in can also affect microbial growth. The damp environment of bathrooms may facilitate the growth of bacteria
- Toothbrushes must be kept as far away from the toilets as possible. Toilets create an aerosol effect during flushing with particles of germs wafting through the air. It's ideal to keep it at least 1.25m away from the toilet bowl.
- Toothbrushes can be immersed in antibacterial mouthwashes to decrease the microbial growth on them.
- Toothbrushes must be replaced every three months (or more often if bristles are frayed or if you are sick or have a weak immune system). This goes the same for changing heads on electric toothbrushes as well. Children's toothbrushes also may need more frequent replacements.
Toothbrushes at Bite
At Bite, we put in extra care and attention when picking toothbrushes for our hygiene packs.
Our toothbrushes come with small heads to make it easy to access crevices of the mouth. They're also specially designed soft brushes to avoid any abrasion for our clients
Even with the best brush, it's still important to obtain a good brushing technique to maintain gum health and to avoid trauma to gums. As some of our patients have noticed, our brushes are hard to find in the supermarkets/pharmacies. This is because they are specifically designed and ordered for our patients through Colgate.