Scummy Truth About Toothbrushes

Brushing your teeth is a ritual you perform twice a day, but hardly any thought is given to what kind of damage might occur to your mouth by the toothbrush. Depending on what kind of toothbrush you use, how hard or often you use it, and where you store it, there could be significant damage occurring without you even being aware of it.

Electric Toothbrushes Causing Problems

Fox News recently reported that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers that the popular electronic toothbrushes from Spinbrush (including the ProClean, Sonic, and For Kids models) can cause choking or damage to teeth. According to the FDA’s website, multiple injuries have been reported including chipped or broken teeth, cuts to the gums and mouth, swallowing broken pieces causing choking, lip burns, and injuries to the eyes and face.

The real problem is not that the tooth brushing itself causes problems to the teeth, but that the dangers associated with malfunctioning brush heads and breaking pieces is very serious. In extreme cases, the removable head has come off while in use and poked people in the cheek and the area close to the eyes. The best way to avoid this hazard is to replace the head every three months or so and carefully supervise children using electric brushes.

In addition to possible parts breaking on electric toothbrushes, they can be a problem if they run out of batteries on a regular basis — as some consumers have reported — leaving you temporarily without a way to clean your teeth. To avoid being stuck in this situation, just keep a couple regular brushes on hand in case your spinner decides to die.

Toothbrush Abrasion

Webmd.com, a leading resource on dental information, highlights another problem that can be exacerbated by the kind of toothbrush you use. The article mentions that abrasion and sensitivity can occur if you brush your teeth too hard or vigorously, and although the brush isn’t necessarily at fault for this, a harder toothbrush can make this occurrence much more likely.

In addition to switching to desensitizing toothpaste, the Academy of General Dentistry suggests you use a softer bristled toothbrush to alleviate sensitivity and reduce the potential for abrasion. Harder bristles cut through plaque much easier than people realize and the “enthusiastic” attempts to clean the teeth can do more harm than good.

Bacteria Farm

The American Dental Association points out the worst disadvantage to toothbrushes — bacterial growth. Sadly, many consumers don’t take precautions against this and it can lead to unsanitary practices and potential health risks. Its website lists hygienic habits that ensure the sanitary state of your brush.

Under no circumstances should you ever share toothbrushes with someone. Regardless of how close you are to family members or friends, this is a guaranteed way to transmit bacteria between individuals. This is particularly risky for those with weak immune systems.

Keeping your brushes clean and dry is important as well since bacteria are particularly fond of wet environments. The ADA recommends you rinse out your toothbrush with tap water after each use and store it upright to dry completely between brushings. Although covers and caps may seem convenient, they can create a humid environment for bacterial growth.

Finally, replace your toothbrushes at least every three or four months. Usually you can tell it’s time to replace one when the bristles lose color and become worn down or frayed. Depending on how much you use the brush, you may have to change it out for a new one even sooner than three months. As an added measure, you can purchase toothbrush sanitizers to further prevent bacterial growth.

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