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Use the brush Luke...

Light saber toothbrush

A toothbrush, like a light-saber, is elegant and meant for a civilized age. How to choose your toothbrush and maintain it will be the topic of this article. Some of you are probably thinking, “I just use the one my dentist gives me.” I congratulate you for keeping regular cleanings and exams. However, some people don’t like the brush their dentist provides and others…(it’s difficult to even type this) don’t keep regular dental check-ups. Toothbrush maintenance is for everybody and we will also talk about electric toothbrushes and whether or not they are right for you.

So, what should I be looking for when buying a toothbrush?

Most importantly, the right toothbrush has soft nylon bristles that won’t injure your gums. Every dentist recommends soft toothbrushes and yet they still sell medium and hard bristles. Why, you ask? No other reason than people will buy them and toothbrush manufacturers like to sell toothbrushes. It’s also helpful to have a long wide handle in order to more easily perform proper brushing strokes.

What about electric toothbrushes?

Electric toothbrushes are a great tool that anyone can use but are particularly beneficial to certain groups. Electric brushes typically come in two varieties: oscillating (back and forth movement) and rotating. I suppose some combination is possible, but they typically fit in the two categories. Each group can show you research that their style is the best, so it really comes down to preference. One important advantage of electric brushes over manual brushes is that they can cover larger areas faster. This does not mean you should brush for less time…you’re always looking for a loophole aren’t you.

Electric brushes are particularly helpful for people with braces, those who can’t keep themselves from brushing too hard, and those with age or disability related dexterity issues. Research has shown that if used properly, a manual brush can be as effective as an electric brush, however, not everyone has the ability to brush properly making the electric brush highly effective.

Do I just brush normally with the electric brush?

Proper electric brushing technique is a little different than with a manual brush. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that the toothbrush is doing the work. Rather than brushing multiple teeth at a time, focus on each tooth individually, rotating the head to get bristles along the gum line and in between teeth. Once again, the toothbrush is doing the work so light pressure is all that is necessary. For children under 10, electric toothbrush use should be supervised.

So how often do I need to replace my toothbrush or electric brush head?

As you use your toothbrush, the bristles become frayed and worn causing them to become ineffective at removing plaque from teeth. Anything that spends time in the mouth is going to become a nice little complex for bacteria to set up shop. The older the brush, the more accommodating it becomes for bacteria. It is recommended that you change your toothbrush or brush head every 3-4 months. If you get a cold or flu, you should replace your brush when the illness subsides. Once it has served its purpose as a toothbrush, what you do with it next is up to you: bathtub cleaner, sink drain excavator…

Toothbrush joke cartoon

How can I keep my brush clean?

Washing your hands prior to brushing and afterwards can help you avoid transferring bacteria to and from the toothbrush. When you are done brushing, make sure to rinse toothpaste and other debris thoroughly. It is recommended that you soak the brush in antiseptic mouth rinse, but I have to admit, I’ve never done this. Feel free to heap scorn and condemnation upon me, I’m sure I deserve it.

How do I store my toothbrush between uses?

Toothbrushes and brush heads should be stored upright and should be allowed to dry between uses. As discussed in an earlier post, bacteria likes moist environments so don’t store your wet brush in a closed container where it is unlikely to dry completely. Another obvious place bacteria hangs out is in and around the toilet. Hopefully, it goes without saying that tooth brush storage should be as far from the toilet as possible. Who could forget when Jerry Seinfeld carelessly bumped his girlfriend’s brush off the counter and into the toilet? Toothbrushes and toilets are not a winning combination.

Feel free to discuss any toothbrush related questions with your dental professionals and may the brush be with you!!

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