Eight Important Things to Know about your Toothbrush

Your toothbrush – you use it twice a day (at least we hope you do!), but how much do you really know about it? We know our toothbrushes are an important tool for our oral health; toothbrushes help us reduce or eliminate plaque, prevent cavities, and freshen our breath. But did you know toothbrushes have been around for thousands of years? Or that you should only keep your toothbrush for a few months? Read on to learn more about your toothbrush, and why it is so important for your oral health.

  1. The toothbrush has ancient origins, and an interesting backstory!
    The practice of using a tool to keep teeth healthy has been around In various forms since ancient times. “Chew sticks,” thin twigs with a frayed end, were used by ancient civilizations to remove food from their teeth. Over time, this practice evolved into toothbrushes, made from bone, wood or ivory handles and stiff bristles of hogs, boars or other animals. Most people don’t know the first mass-produced toothbrush was invented in prison! In the 1770s, an Englishman named William Addis was in jail for inciting a riot. After observing fellow prisoners using a rag covered in soot or salt to clean their teeth, Addis saved an animal bone from dinner and obtained bristles from a guard. Addis bored tiny holes into the bone, inserted the bristles and sealed them with glue. After his release, he modified his prototype and started a company to manufacture his toothbrush. That company, Wisdom Toothbrushes, still exists in the United Kingdom today. The toothbrush most of us use today, the modern nylon-bristled toothbrush, was invented in 1938. 
  2. Toothbrushes may be ancient, but they have a lifespan of only 3-4 months
    While toothbrushes have been around for thousands of years, they are not meant to last that long! Toothbrushes should be replaced every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush with frayed bristles will not do a sufficient job of cleaning your teeth. 
  3. Toothbrushes are not meant to be shared.
    While most of us agree that “Sharing is Caring,” such is not the case when it comes to toothbrushes! Sharing a toothbrush means you are also sharing germs and bacteria, a particular concern if you have a cold or flu, or if you have a condition that leaves your immune system compromised. Toothbrushes should NOT be shared, not even amongst family members.
  4. Toothbrushes like a little fresh air.
    It is not wise to routinely cover toothbrushes or store them in closed containers; a moist environment such as a closed container is conducive to bacteria growth. Storing your toothbrush closely with other toothbrushes is also not advised, as it can lead to cross contamination. Give your toothbrush the fresh air it wants instead! After brushing, rinse your toothbrush with water to remove any remaining toothpaste and debris, and then store it upright and allow it to air dry.
  5. Electric or Manual? The choice is yours.
    When it comes to the choice between an electric toothbrush or a manual one, the choice is yours! Your teeth truly don’t care. The important part is brushing twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste. Both types of toothbrush can effectively and thoroughly clean your teeth, so choose the one you prefer.
  6. Don’t hesitate to go soft.
    Whether you choose an electric or a manual toothbrush, it is advisable to choose a soft-bristled brush. damage to your gums and enamel can occur from firm or even medium-strength bristles. Do not scrub vigorously when brushing your teeth, you only want to brush hard enough to clean the film off your teeth. Let your fluoride toothpaste do the rest of the work!
  7. Brush first or floss first? There is no “correct” order!
    Brushing before flossing, flossing before brushing… the debate goes on. The truth is, it really doesn’t matter to your teeth! Choose the order that works for you, as long as you do both, you will reap the benefits. 
  8. Bottom line: 2 minutes, 2 times a day.
    Make a commitment to your mouth, your oral health, and your overall health: commit to two minutes of brushing, two times a day. These four minutes of your day will go a long way towards ensuring a healthy mouth for years to come. Using your toothbrush for those four minutes each day is the single most important thing you can do to take care of your oral health. 

Our toothbrushes are one of our most important tools, and just like any tool, it’s important to use it correctly for best results. Follow the tips above, and show your toothbrush some love! Take good care of your teeth, and you will reap the benefits. If you have questions about brushing, would like guidance on better brushing techniques, or if you have any concerns about your oral health habits, give La Mesa Hills Dentistry a call today! At LMHD, it is our priority to help our patients achieve and maintain good oral health. It all begins with the toothbrush! Contact LMHD for any of your oral health questions or concerns.