This three-part article series takes a look at the various microorganisms that live in our mouth and how we can best manage and control them, effectively helping to prevent gum disease.
Welcome back to the second installment of our three-part article series on oral bacteria and the myths and facts surrounding them. As we discussed in Part 1, our mouths are naturally teeming with billions of bacteria. Just one tooth can house as many as 500 million of these microscopic organisms! The better you are about brushing and flossing your teeth, the cleaner your mouth will be, but you’ll never totally eliminate these microorganisms. “Not all bacteria are bad for you either,” says a Colorado Springs dentist. “Many are crucial for maintaining the balance of health in the mouth.”
There’s much to learn about a whole invisible world going on inside our own mouths, so let’s continue on with taking a look at oral bacteria.
Is Your Toothbrush Clean? Really Clean?
There are all sort of old fish wives’ tales about eliminating bacteria on the bristles of your toothbrush. Some recommend soaking your toothbrush in antiseptic mouth rinse, which sounds reasonable. Others are ridiculous and range from microwaving your toothbrush for 15 seconds to putting it in the dishwasher. But, according to Colorado Springs dentists, the only thing you need to do to keep your toothbrush clean is to rinse it under a running tab after use and then leave it out in the open air to dry, preferably away from a flushing toilet.
The American Dental Association (ADA) has stated that no other measures have proved helpful or advantageous in keeping your toothbrush clean and free of bacteria. In fact, many have proven to be detrimental or even damaging to your toothbrush! A run in the dishwasher or microwave, for example, would probably melt or warp the plastic in your toothbrush. The same advice applies for other dental appliances, such as retainers. If you ever have any doubt about how to store your toothbrush, speak to your dentist.
Out with the Old in with the New
When is it time to replace your toothbrush? According to the ADA, every three to four months or when the bristles start becoming frayed and bent out of shape. Interestingly enough, regularly replacing your toothbrush isn’t done to avoid bacteria from building up on its bristles. Apparently, there is no clinical evidence to show that bacteria on the bristles of your toothbrush can be especially damaging to your health. Generally speaking, your immune system should take care of the worst of those microbes.
The main reason you should change your toothbrush every three to four months is to benefit from a 100% functional cleaning implement. After some time, the bristles can lose their flexibility and will become bent out of shape. This compromises their cleaning ability. So, to keep your toothbrush in good working order, it’s best to replace regularly.
What happens if your toothbrush becomes frayed after only a short amount of time? Well, you may be pressing down too hard! “This could be irritating your gums and eroding your dental enamel, so lighten up on your grip,” advise dentists in Colorado Springs.
Stay Tuned for Part 3
Stay tuned for the final installment of this three-part article series in which dentists in Colorado Springs provide us with a closer and more personal look at the oral bacteria populating our mouths.