The toothbrush has been around for nearly 5,000 years. “Chew sticks,” bone, wood, ivory and hog bristles all make up the far-reaching history of this instrument of oral health. The nylon bristled toothbrush that we now use was invented in 1938. Today, battery powered toothbrushes are available in addition to manual toothbrushes.

Both manual and powered toothbrushes can effectively and thoroughly clean teeth. People who have difficulty using a manual toothbrush may find a powered toothbrush easier or more comfortable to use. The size and shape of the brush should fit your mouth comfortably, allowing you to reach all areas easily. Your dentist may offer suggestions about which type is suitable for your needs.

No matter what type of toothbrush you choose, the American Dental Association recommends that you brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and clean between your teeth with floss or an interdental cleaner daily.

Keeping Your Toothbrush Clean

Just as it’s important to practice good dental hygiene, good toothbrush hygiene is essential. Here are five easy ways to make sure your toothbrush is truly clean:

Don’t share toothbrushes. Using someone else’s toothbrush exposes you to another person’s body fluids and potential germs, which could make you sick. People with compromised immune systems or who are sick with something they could pass on to another person should take special care to use only their own toothbrush.

Rinse your toothbrush after brushing. Give it a thorough washing to remove any leftover toothpaste or debris.

Store your toothbrush in an upright position. When you’re done brushing, try to store it standing straight up and allow it to air-dry until your next brushing. If there’s more than one brush in the same holder, try to keep them as separate as possible to prevent cross-contamination.

Keep your toothbrush out in the open. Do not routinely cover toothbrushes or store them in closed containers. A moist environment, such as a closed container, is more conducive to the growth of microorganisms than the open air.

Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months. Bristles that become frayed and worn with use and will be less effective at cleaning teeth. Children’s toothbrushes often need replacing more frequently than adult brushes. Look for toothbrushes that display the ADA Seal of Acceptance.


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