Bathroom Talk: bad habits you and your children might be practicing

Posted on November 20, 2020 | Hot Topics

Child brushing teeth

Many of us are in the habit of reading labels. We read the labels on the back of our food and medicine bottles, but how often do you read the instructions on the back of the package your toothbrush came in? Are there even instructions? Is there a listed expiration date on a toothbrush or care instructions? Where is the best place to store your family’s toothbrushes? Do you even need to clean the toothbrush after use?

Maybe you haven’t given much thought to the care of your toothbrush, and you wouldn’t be alone in that. But, when you really start to think about it, it’s pretty important to make sure that your toothbrush stays clean – it does go into your mouth, after all! 

What is the expiration on a toothbrush?

If you’re using a standard (non-electric) toothbrush, you’ll start to notice that, over time, the bristles begin to bend and almost fray. As long as you are brushing your teeth the recommended number of times (twice) per day, then you really only have about 3 to 4 months before it’s time to toss it out. Once the bristles are compromised, they are less efficient. The toothbrush will not be able to remove all the plaque and bacteria that builds up in your mouth, and it may end up causing some major issues.

If you’re using an electric toothbrush, you’ll notice that the bristles are shorter. The combination of shorter bristles and the pulsing of the brush will lead to quicker wear. This means, it’s important to swap out the brush head every 12 weeks.

Where is the best place to store a toothbrush? 

It’s been debated if leaving your toothbrush too close to the toilet will expose the brush to unsanitary and gross germs. Scientists have said that it’s not ideal to store your toothbrush on the back of the toilet, but really, there isn’t a huge risk to keeping your toothbrush within a few feet of the toilet.

The real kicker is how well the bristles dry between uses. If you or your kids are in the habit of laying your brushes on their sides, then the bristles might not get the chance to dry out. This might actually pose more issues than any other bathroom bacteria. Another culprit is the toothbrush cover. While they’re handy for traveling, they can also keep your brush from drying completely. The best practice is to place your toothbrush in a holder, so it can stand upright.

If you have several toothbrushes in one bathroom, make sure none of the heads are touching. This might seem like a no brainer for adults, but it’s one to keep an eye on for the kids.

What’s the best way to clean the brush after use?

Kids are notorious for little to no cleaning after they’ve brushed their teeth. Can you picture it? The base of the brush head typically still has a good amount of dried toothpaste on it. That’s just about the opposite of how to care for the brush between uses. The ideal way is to rinse the bristles under warm water, until all the paste has been removed. This might come as a shock, but there’s really no magic formula or UV cleaner that is recommended for keeping germs off your toothbrush. Just rinse, tap out the excess water, and store it away in a safe spot.

A practical way to make sure you and your family are  practicing healthy brush care habits is to set a reminder in your calendar for 3 months out every time you open a new brush. Make sure to have a few new brushes on-hand, and retire the worn out toothbrush for the new version.

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