How To Properly Clean Your Toothbrush… And Why

Dr. Christopher Li Etobicoke - Li Family Dental

By Dr. Christopher Li

February 8, 2023

dental care, dental hygiene, how to properly clean your toothbrush, toothbrush care

When you’re finished brushing your teeth, do you clean your toothbrush thoroughly every single time? It’s easy to dismiss cleaning your toothbrush, especially when you’re in a hurry, but you may be opening yourself up to a variety of risks if you keep missing this vital part of the process. And cleaning your toothbrush is about more than just rinsing it under some cold water for a second before you put it away. It needs to be cleaned properly to ensure you avoid any unwanted risks and have the best oral health possible. Here’s how to properly clean your toothbrush… and why.

Why Is A Clean Toothbrush So Important?

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There’s no question that brushing your teeth on a regular basis is important, but your efforts may come back to haunt you if your toothbrush isn’t clean. Some of the reasons why it’s important to have a clean toothbrush include:

  • Your toothbrush is a breeding ground for bacteria, viruses, etc.
  • Your overall health and oral health can suffer from a dirty toothbrush
  • You could end up with dental issues that result in costing you extra money in dental visits

The last thing you want is to end up with a health issue because you neglected to keep your toothbrush as clean as it needs to be. Learn to pause and ask yourself if it’s clean before you begin brushing, and then take the necessary steps if it isn’t.

Proven Tips For A Clean Toothbrush

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When figuring out how to properly clean your toothbrush, it’s important to note that bacteria and debris can become trapped in the bristles of your brush, so it’s important to take the time to clean it thoroughly. One of the best (and easiest) ways to clean your toothbrush is to sanitize it with hot water before and after you use it. Let the water run from your faucet until it is noticeably hot and then run it over the head of your toothbrush for 30 seconds or so to remove any harmful contaminants.

Some people also like to soak the bristles of the toothbrush in an anti-bacterial mouthwash to get rid of any germs and bacteria. You can do this step on its own or in addition to running it under hot water. All you have to do is add some mouthwash to a cup and then place the head of your toothbrush in the cup so the bristles are submerged. Please note that the bristles of your toothbrush may wear out faster if you regularly soak it in mouthwash.

Another effective disinfectant for toothbrushes is plain vinegar. Mix white vinegar 50/50 with water and soak your toothbrush head in the solution for 10 minutes.

Drying Your Toothbrush Out & Storage

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Once you have finished brushing your teeth and your toothbrush is clean, it’s a good idea to let it dry completely, whenever possible. Letting your toothbrush air dry will remove a lot of the anaerobic bacteria that’s on the brush, so you don’t have to worry about it the next time.

Storing your toothbrush the correct way is another way to ensure it gets dried out properly between each use. You want to store your toothbrush in an open-air holder, where it has the best opportunity to dry. Leaving it in a drawer or any type of closed case will keep the moisture around and encourage the growth of mold and bacteria. We all have bacteria that are specific to our mouths, but you don’t want different bacteria growing on your toothbrush when it’s not in use.

Why You Should Never Share A Toothbrush

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The practice of sharing toothbrushes deserves special mention in any discussion of how to properly clean your toothbrush. As mentioned above, the bacteria that are in your mouth are specific to you, so if you share your toothbrush with a spouse or roommate, you’ll be introducing new bacteria into your mouth and digestive system every time you brush your teeth. For some people, it’s just a matter of convenience, but if you’re serious about your dental health, you will stop the practice of sharing toothbrushes immediately.

Some of the possible issues you can encounter when sharing a toothbrush include:

  • Periodontal disease, which may cause gum recession, pain, bleeding tooth loss, or bone loss
  • Gingivitis if the person you’re sharing with has gum disease
  • Cavities, because tooth decay can be contagious too
  • Cold or flu viruses
  • Exposure to cold sores and similar issues

If you find yourself in a situation where you just can’t avoid sharing a toothbrush, take a few moments before you brush to run it under hot water to help sanitize it as best you can. And if there is antibacterial mouthwash available, soak it for a few minutes to be extra safe. Keep in mind, the risks of sharing a toothbrush may outweigh the benefit you get from brushing your teeth if it’s just a one-time thing.

When It’s Time To Replace Your Toothbrush

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Eventually, you’re going to need a new toothbrush, no matter how well you clean the one you have. Generally speaking, you should replace your toothbrush every three to four months if everything seems fine. If you notice issues with the bristles, like shrinkage or fraying, then it doesn’t matter how long it’s been, you should change it right away. It’s also a good idea to replace your toothbrush if someone in your household has been sick with a contagious illness and you share the same bathroom.

You should also replace the toothbrush if anyone has used yours, whether they are sick or not. No matter how inconvenient it may seem, the cost of a new toothbrush pales in comparison to the costs you may incur if you develop a serious dental issue that requires professional attention.

Now that you know how to properly clean your toothbrush, there’s no reason why you can’t add this extra step to your normal dental routine. Everyone that ends up with periodontal disease or some other dental problem that was caused by not cleaning their toothbrush properly wishes they had taken the necessary steps when they had the chance. Once you add this new step to your everyday process, you’ll notice fewer issues with your teeth and gums, and your mouth will feel fresh and healthy.

For more dental tips or to schedule a checkup, give us a call at 416-232-2033 or request an appointment by clicking here.

Dr. Christopher Li

About the author

Doctor Christopher Li, DDS
Dr. Chris, as he is affectionately known, is a licensed dentist with over 20 years experience. His caring personality makes even the most tentative person at ease. Patients are constantly commenting about how Dr. Chris is incredible at delivering pain-free freezing, and how he has an amazing chair-side manner.  Dr. Chris loves sharing information with his patients and everyone who has teeth about how to care for their teeth, avoid tooth decay, and the treatments available to help them overcome their tooth pain or other dental issues so they can enjoy life and food to its fullest!

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