Dental Procedure Pain: Get the Facts

If Your Toothbrush Could Talk

Your toothbrush quietly goes about the daily work of getting rid of food particles, rinsing away bacteria between your teeth and keeping your pearly whites sparkling. You probably don't give your toothbrush much thought once you've cleaned your teeth and put it away, but take a closer look and you'll realize that your toothbrush has much to tell you. It would be a wise choice to listen attentively -- it's for your own good.

"Look to See If I'm ADA Certified"

There are numerous types, shapes and kinds of toothbrushes on the market, but not all of them are created equal. Examine the packaging on any toothbrush. Look for the seal from the American Dental Association because that seal marks toothbrushes that have designs that the ADA has tested and know are effective at cleaning your teeth.

"Stop! I Shouldn't Be In Your Mouth!"

Many people use the same toothbrush for six months or more, only remembering to get a new one following a dentist visit. This isn't healthy. The American Dental Association recommends that you switch out your toothbrush every three to four months. The act of brushing wears down the bristles on your toothbrush, which means that they won't do as thorough of a job of cleaning your teeth. You should also get a new toothbrush after you've been sick, had a mouth infection or a cold sore has healed. Continuing to use your toothbrush after any of these times means that you're reintroducing those germs or bacteria back into your mouth.

"Clean Me Properly and Keep Me Dry"

You don't have to sanitize or scrub your toothbrush after each use, but you do need to take steps to keep it as clean as possible. Rinse the toothbrush thoroughly with warm tap water to remove any toothpaste or food debris. Once you've completely rinsed your toothbrush, store it in an upright position. This encourages air to circulate around the bristles so they dry completely.

"Store Me In a Medicine Cabinet"

It might be more convenient to rinse your toothbrush and stash it in the holder on your sink, but that leaves it open to getting contaminated by some pretty nasty stuff. When you flush your toilet, bacteria is thrust into the air. If your toothbrush is sitting on the edge of the counter, some of that bacteria is going to settle on the bristles, which leaves you susceptible to getting sick. Keep your toothbrush in your medicine cabinet to keep it safe from lingering bacteria, and always put the lid on the toilet down before flushing. Wash toothbrush holders, too, because they can also harbor bacteria from a flushed toilet. Hot soapy water or a trip through the dishwasher will sanitize toothbrush holders.

For more tips about taking care of your toothbrush (and, by association, your teeth), visit dental sites like