When should I change my toothbrush?
'I prefer medium or hard bristles'.
'My toothbrush wears out after a week'.
'I always scrub them really well to make sure they are clean'.
All things that dentists hear regularly, most likely daily.
The truth is, tooth decay is a preventable disease. The good news is, we have a few ways to help prevent it. A healthy diet, drinking enough water, adding topical fluoride to your routine, and frequent mechanical removal of the plaque from our teeth. All have been proven to reduce your risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease.
In other words, eating well, drinking lots of water, using fluoride, and toothbrushing.
By now, most of us would know that we should brush our teeth, morning and night. 2 mins each time. But did you know that HOW we brush is also very important?
The toothbrushing technique we use can really impact our chance of getting disease, or damaging our teeth and gums.
We should use circular movements, or brushing down onto the tooth, rather than a scrubbing technique. It's important to make sure the toothbrush also cleans along our gums.
We also should not use too much pressure. A toothbrush is made to clean our teeth. It's a tool specifically designed for that purpose. Brushing harder does not mean that it is better for your teeth, and in fact, can actually cause more damage. Think of writing with a pen. A pen is designed to dispense the ink when you move it over the paper. You need to apply gentle pressure to have the ink come out. Pushing harder does not always mean that the pen writes better, if you push too hard, you can put a hole in the paper.
As with pressure, soft bristles also reduce the risk of damaging the teeth and gums. Medium or hard bristles can wear away the enamel over time, much like water can smooth rocks.
As one of my (very experienced) colleagues tells his patients -
'A toothbrush should last a few months. If it only lasts a week, you're pushing too hard'.
It really is as simple as that.
We should be able to change our toothbrush every 2-3 months, and have it look almost as new. When it is starting to show signs of wear, or if you have been unwell, it is also a good time to change.
And if you aren't getting that length of time out of your toothbrush? Maybe you could visit your dentist and have a chat about a more effective way to brush to reduce your risk of damaging your teeth and gums.
Sometimes we just aren't told things. Days roll into months, months roll into years, and the next thing you know you have been brushing your teeth the same way for a very long time. Don't be afraid to ask your dentist if you are doing it right! We love it when patient's want to learn how best to look after their teeth =)
- Dr Ebonie Salter - Principle Dentist