Take Care of Your Toothbrush To Safeguard Your Smile

By Claudia Rojas on July 10, 2023 in General oral health

Children brushing their teeth

Your toothbrush is a vital part of maintaining healthy teeth and gums. But you need to take proper care of it, so it can take care of you! Use the tips below to choose the right toothbrush, keep it clean, and store it properly, both at home and on the road.

Callout: Brushing for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste and reaching the entire surface of every tooth has been shown to reduce plaque and risk for cavities, gingivitis, tooth decay, and much more.

Choose the right toothbrush (and replace it regularly)

A couple of quick tips for buying the right toothbrush:

  • A soft-bristled toothbrush is best. Medium and hard-bristled options can damage your gums and tooth enamel, especially if you brush with too much pressure.
  • Pay attention to the size of your toothbrush so you can comfortably reach every tooth.

Make sure you replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months, or sooner if the bristles become frayed or matted. An old or damaged toothbrush won’t clean your teeth as effectively and is more likely to harbor bacteria.

Take care of your toothbrush at home

The way you care for and store your toothbrush at home is very important. The right routine and environment will help you maintain a healthy smile, while improper toothbrush care can actually introduce more bacteria and oral health risks.

Here are a few best practices for home toothbrush care: 

  • Never share your toothbrush. This can spread bacteria or other microorganisms from mouth to mouth.

  • Rinse your toothbrush with tap water after brushing. You should keep rinsing until it is completely free of toothpaste and food debris.

  • Let your toothbrush air dry. Avoid drying it with a towel, which may be dirty or leave strings of fabric on your toothbrush.

  • Store your brush in an upright position. Make sure it’s not touching any other brush.

  • Don’t use a toothbrush cover or store it in a closed container. While this may seem like a way to keep your brush away from contaminants, reducing air flow can promote the growth of bacteria instead.

  • Keep your brush at least six feet from the toilet. This is to avoid bacteria that travels through the air after each flush. Closing the lid before you flush also helps.

  • Replace your brush instead of cleaning it. Cleaning solutions and high temperatures can cause damage to your toothbrush, so don’t boil it, put it in the dishwasher, or soak it in a cleaning product or sanitizer.

Tips for traveling with your toothbrush

Sleeping away from home can create some obstacles for taking care of your toothbrush, but it’s easy to keep it clean and sanitary with a little planning. 

  • Allow your toothbrush to dry completely before packing it. If you don’t have time for it to air dry, use a clean paper towel instead of terrycloth or another fabric.

  • Cover it with a clean toothbrush case that offers some air flow. Make sure your toothbrush holder is still clean when you pack to return home.

  • Find space to store your toothbrush as you would at home. Keep your toothbrush upright and don’t store it too close to another brush or the toilet. 

If you’re taking a long flight or have a layover, consider packing your toothbrush and a small tube of toothpaste in your carry on. That way you can freshen up before your final destination. Just make sure to buy a small tube that is allowed on an airplane — the TSA allows travel-size containers no larger than 3.4 ounces.

Forget your toothbrush? You can usually find one for purchase at a gas station or in a hotel lobby, but until then, rinse your mouth out with water regularly. Washing away any remaining food will help you limit bacteria growth and reduce bad breath until you find a replacement toothbrush.