Using Mouthrinses in Kids: Top Considerations

When it comes to their kids’ oral health, parents must always be looking for ways to help improve care of their kid’s teeth and gums.

Needless to say, brushing and flossing are still the best ways to avoid of tooth decay and gum disease, but some kids – especially the older ones – may start to show some interest in incorporating mouthrinse as part of their oral hygiene routine.

For parents, here are some things to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to let your kid use a mouthrinse.

Proper Age for Using Mouthrinses in kids

In general, kids younger than six years old must not be allowed to use a mouthrinse to avoid the risk of swallowing the product. It can be quite tricky and challenging for young kids to learn to swish the liquid instead of swallowing it like a drink.

Meanwhile, those aged six to twelve may use mouthrinse, but only under close adult supervision.

One good way to determine if your kid is ready to use a mouthrinse is to ask him or her to take a sip of water, gargle it around his or her mouth for a few seconds, then spit it out. If your kid can handle rinsing with water, they are more likely to do the same with mouthrinse.

Choosing between Alcohol-Containing vs. Alcohol-free Mouthrinses

Many different types of mouthrinses are available on the market, and the two varieties include the alcohol-containing and alcohol-free. Alcohol-free products are recommended because they can be just as effective as the alcohol-containing variety, but much more pleasant to use. When it comes to fluoride mouthrinses, parents are advised to avoid them for now, as fluoride can result in fluorosis of the kids’ developing teeth.

Fluorosis is a harmless condition, but it can be unsightly due to the changes it can cause to the teeth’s color and texture. It can cause formation of white spots or brown streaks on the tooth enamel, or make the tooth surfaces uneven and bumpy.

Using Mouthrinses while on Orthodontic Treatment

Kids who have dental braces can benefit the most from using  mouthrinse, because mechanical cleaning via toothbrush and floss is often not enough in removing plaque buildup underneath the wires and brackets.

Mouthrinses can be a good adjunct to loosen debris and neutralize the acid-producing bacteria in the mouth. With this three-pronged attack – brush, floss, and using mouthrinse – against plaque, kids should be able to adequately protect their teeth from tooth decay and gum disease while wearing braces. This, in turn, helps to ensure a successful orthodontic treatment that will result to straighter teeth in the end.

Mouthrinses as an Adjunct to Daily Oral Hygiene Routine

Regardless of the type of mouthrinse your kid uses, be sure to constantly remind him or her that they should not, in any way, replace the good old twice-daily toothbrushing and flossing. While it is true that mouthrinses offers great benefits against plaque, it cannot match the benefits provided by mechanical cleaning.

Follow the Advice of Your kid’s Dentist

Because mouthrinses is not advisable for every kid, consult with your kid’s dentist first. He or she will help determine if using a mouthrinse will indeed be beneficial for your kid’s teeth.

All about Cleft Lip and Palate

Cleft lip and/or palate are among the most common birth defects worldwide. In the United States alone, more than 4000 babies are born with cleft lip every year, while as much as 3000 have cleft palate. These developmental defects occur when the structures that form the lip and/or roof of the mouth fail to fuse properly during embryonic development.

Risk Factors for Cleft Lip and Palate:

Risk factors that could lead to the development of cleft lip and palate include diabetes, smoking, alcohol abuse, and anti-seizure medications to name a few. Not taking enough folic acid may also be contributing factor.

Genetics and race may also play a role, as it has been found that babies of Asian, Native American, and Latin American descent are more likely to develop cleft lip and/or palate than everyone else.

Diagnosis of Cleft and Lip Palate:

Cleft lip can easily be diagnosed during pregnancy via routine ultrasound, while cleft palate may only be diagnosed after the baby is born. Some forms of cleft palate are diagnosed later in life.

Types of Cleft Lip and Palate:

There are two major types of cleft – cleft lip and cleft palate. Some babies are born with either cleft lip or cleft palate, but there are also those who have both.

A cleft lip appears like an opening on the edge of the upper lip, but in severe cases, it may extend up to the nose. It may be a partial or complete, unilateral (one-sided) or bilateral (both sides) cleft.

On the other hand, a cleft palate pertains to the split in the floor of the mouth, which results to communication between the nasal and oral cavity. The cleft usually involves the soft palate, or it may also extend into the bony hard palate.

Complications of Cleft Lip and Palate:

The most common problems associated with clefts are feeding difficulties, especially in the case of a cleft palate. The gap in the roof of the mouth prevents proper suction, and thus necessitates the use of special feeders that aid parents in feeding their babies.

Other complications that may arise include speech difficulties, ear infections and possible hearing loss, and dental problems such as misshapen, missing, or misaligned teeth. There may also be increased risk for tooth decay since the enamel of the teeth tends to be weaker, and the salivary flow is often decreased and less effective.

Treatment for Cleft Lip and Palate:

Cleft lip and palate is a complicated problem that requires team effort to manage. Treatment depends on the severity of the cleft. Some patients may only need orthodontic treatment, but surgery is required most of the time. Surgical treatment is often planned and executed by a team of specialists which usually include an orthodontist, an oral surgeon, a pediatrician, an otorhinolaryngologist (ENT specialist), and a speech therapist. The initial surgery will take place in as early as eight weeks.

Successful treatment shall help the patient achieve normal appearance and function.

The Oral Health Effects of E-Cigarettes

In the recent years, electronic cigarettes (or e-cigarettes for short), have become increasingly popular due to their look and feel that match that of real cigarettes. They are even being endorsed as the safer alternative to your conventional smoking, as these e-cigarettes can give smokers their nicotine fix without the adverse effects associated with tobacco use.

Nonetheless, studies have found that this supposedly safer alternative is actually posing more dangers to its users, particularly in their oral health.

Listed below are some surprising adverse reactions of e-cigarettes that you should watch out for:

Decreased Salivary Flow:

One of the most common side effects of e-cigarettes is decreased salivary flow, which occurs as a result of nicotine constricting or narrowing the blood vessels. Without enough saliva, there will be other problems like mouth and throat dryness which, in turn, can lead to tooth decay and bad breath.

Mucosal Irritation:

The nicotine in the e-cigarettes, or even tobacco smoking for that matter, gets absorbed by the oral mucosa. This, in turn, may cause irritation particularly of the mucosa of the cheeks and pharynx. Such irritation may manifest as redness, mouth sores and blisters.

Gum Recession:

Nicotine, being a vasoconstrictor, can also reduce the amount of blood flow to the gum tissues. Without enough blood, the gums do not receive the right amount of oxygen and nutrients needed for them to survive and stay healthy; hence, they shrink or recede.

Gum recession, in turn, exposes tooth roots and thus cause sensitivity.

Hides Symptoms of Gum Disease:

This effect is also related to the vasoconstrictive effects of nicotine. Bleeding is the main symptom of gum disease, which dentists use to determine the severity of gum inflammation.

Since nicotine can cause decreased blood flow to the gums, bleeding will be minimal to none, thus giving that false impression that the gum tissue is healthy even when you actually have gum disease. This makes it hard to diagnose the disease and by the time it is detected, the disease has progressed and is in a worse state already. More severe gum disease means more complicated treatment required.

Furthermore, the constriction caused by nicotine does not go away upon cessation of smoking – it lasts long after you quit.

Grinding:

Nicotine can also fire up the muscles, especially during sleep. The increased muscle activity may cause you to start grinding your teeth, or if you already are a grinder, then the grinding habit will be more intense than before.

Studies say that those who are exposed to nicotine, whether through electronic or conventional cigarettes, are five times more likely to develop teeth grinding habits that those who aren’t.

There are many other possible impact of e-cigarettes not only on oral health, but on overall health as well.

Although manufacturers claim that e-cigarettes are healthier than traditional cigarettes, more studies must be conducted to provide more solid evidences for such claim. Until then, the best thing to do is to stay away from both e-cigarettes and cigarettes.

Botox and Dermal Fillers in Dentistry: Say Whaaat?

Botox and dermal fillers are very popular cosmetic treatments known for their great ability in diminishing the signs of aging in the skin. Botox works by relaxing the facial muscles, while dermal fillers restore lost volume in the face, especially in areas around the mouth. But aside from eliminating those fine lines and wrinkles, did you know that these two beauty treatments have also found their way in cosmetic dentistry?

Today, dentists can use them not only for esthetic purposes, but for functional purposes as well. In fact, they can help solve some of the most difficult and frustrating clinical situations dentists confront.

Can’t believe it? Well, here are a few examples of oral health issues that can be addressed by using Botox and dermal fillers.

TMJ Disorders and Facial Pain:

According to most dentists, these two are by far among the most challenging cases to deal with. More than 80% of cases are muscle-related, while the remaining is related to the teeth and occlusion.

Using Botox injections helps your dentist identify any muscle-related problems first and determine how much of it a factor is. After that, he or she can now proceed on treating the teeth- and occlusion-related problems easier and more accurately than ever before.

Bruxism and Clenching:

Botox injections have also shown promise in alleviating the symptoms of bruxism. The earliest study on the use of Botox for such purpose was done in a brain-injured patient with severe bruxism. The injection was given to paralyze the temporalis and masseter muscles. These two are the muscles on your temple and cheeks areas, respectively.

Botox have the same application in clenching, as most chronic cases are characterized by a hyperactive masseter, causing this muscle to increase in size. This increased size makes the jaw appear swollen and misshapen. Botox injections decrease the hyperactivity of the masseter, and subsequently its size.

Gummy Smile

Gummy smile pertains to the excessive display of gum tissue upon smiling. It is mostly an esthetic issue that is attributable to the over-contraction of the muscles that make up the upper lip. The proposed treatment before was surgery. Today, Botox injections can be given in small doses to limit the contraction of the upper lip.

Black Triangles:

These so-called “black triangles” are the two big black holes on each side of the teeth that often result from periodontal treatment, implant therapy, and restoration with crowns and bridges. It occurs when the interdental papilla, or gum tissue below the contact points of teeth, are not preserved.

For most patients, it is a major esthetic concern that causes them to feel embarrassed about their smile. But esthetics aside there may also be some functional problems like the accumulation of food debris and the patient spitting through these holes when speaking.

Luckily, your dentist may now use dermal fillers to plump up the papilla, fill up the holes, and create proper gum contours. The effects last for about eight months, after which it may have to be redone again. Although temporary, patients are often very satisfied with the results.

Dentofacial Esthetics:

Dermal fillers can restore volume to the various areas around the mouth, such as the lips, nasolabial folds, and the so-called marionette lines. They work by literally filling out all those static folds in the face brought about by decreased amounts of collagen and fat.

Orthodontic Relapse:

Botox can also be used to prevent orthodontic relapse in patient’s overactive mentalis muscle. Mentalis is the main muscle that makes up the chin. As with the temporalis and masseter muscle, Botox injections also work to decrease the activity of this muscle and retrain it into more physiologic movement.

While both Botox and dermal fillers are only temporary solutions that will have to be redone over time, the results they produce are nonetheless very satisfying for most patients.

What is Accelerated Orthodontics?

Accelerated orthodontics is a relatively new approach in orthodontics that works in pretty much the same way as your traditional braces, but requires much less time to produce the desired tooth movement. This new form of treatment is becoming increasingly popular in adults, as it promises to straighten teeth in just a couple of months instead of several years with regular orthodontics.

If you have crooked teeth and are suffering from the difficult consequence of such, then this speedier way of straightening your teeth may very well be the solution you’re looking for. Find out more about this treatment below.

Duration of Treatment

Traditional orthodontics requires a patient to wear braces for at least two years. With accelerated orthodontics, however, this period is shortened to as little as three months to a maximum of eight months. The end result is just the same – you get a more perfect smile and an overall improved dental health.

Dental Braces:

Just like traditional orthodontics, accelerated orthodontics also makes use of braces to force the teeth to shift into their desired position. There are three types of orthodontic braces – metal, ceramic, and lingual. Any one of these may be utilized in accelerated orthodontics.

Metal and ceramic braces tend to work better than lingual braces. Lingual braces, however, is the most esthetic of the three, as they are placed at the back of the teeth and thus hidden from plain view. Ceramic braces are not as esthetic as lingual braces, but it isn’t as noticeable as metal braces either.

Surgery Required:

While it has the upper hand when it comes to treatment duration, the main disadvantage of accelerated orthodontics is that it may require some minor surgical procedure. The surgery may be performed by the orthodontist himself, an oral surgeon, or a periodontist (a gum specialist). It is usually done in clinic setting, about a week after the braces are installed. It involves altering the bone and gum tissue that supports the teeth to be moved. Such alteration decreases the amount supporting bone, thus allowing the teeth to shift into their desired positions more quickly.

The surgery is done under local anesthesia, and causes just about the same level of discomfort as your typical dental cleaning. Some patients report an itching sensation because of the faster movement of the teeth.

Post-Treatment:

Once your teeth are in their desired alignment, you’ll also be required to use a retainer to prevent the teeth from moving back to their pre-treatment position.

Treatment Cost:

Although the duration of treatment is much shorter, the total cost for accelerated orthodontics is almost the same (or even higher) as that of traditional orthodontic treatment. This is because of the surgery required to produce faster tooth movement. Expect the price to be at least $2,000. This already includes the fee for the periodontist who will perform the surgery.

Unfortunately, most insurance companies do not cover accelerated orthodontics, but there are orthodontists who offer flexible payment terms.

To sum it up, accelerated orthodontics is a very promising option if you want to have your teeth straightened yet you dread the idea of wearing braces for several years.

To learn more about this treatment and find out if you are suitable for it, consult your orthodontist now for proper assessment.

Antibiotic Prophylaxis 101 – How Antibiotics Prevent Infections?

You most likely know what antibiotics are used for – they are for treating infections caused by bacteria. But did you know that your dentist may also suggest that you take them before a dental procedure to prevent the chance of infection? Such method of use is called antibiotic prophylaxis, and you will learn more about it in this article.

Why is antibiotic prophylaxis done?

Antibiotic prophylaxis is a protective measure taken by your dental professional to prevent bacteria from spreading from the mouth to the other parts of the body through the bloodstream. It is given prior to dental treatment in especially susceptible patients.

Who might benefit for antibiotic prophylaxis?

Not all patients require antibiotic prophylaxis. It is only used in susceptible individuals and these include, among others, patients who have or have had heart disease. These patients are at increased risk of developing this so-called endocarditis, which pertain to the inflammation of the tissue that lines the heart.

To limit the chances developing this disease, the American Heart Association released a guideline stating that antibiotic prophylaxis must be considered in the following individuals who have:

1) An artificial heart valve or have had a heart valve repaired with a prosthetic material.

2) A history of infective endocarditis.

3) A heart transplant that developed a valve problem.

4) Congenital heart conditions (i.e. unrepaired or incompletely-repaired congenital heart disease, completely-repaired heart defect within six months after the intervention, and repaired congenital heart disease but with residual defects).

Antibiotic prophylaxis was also once recommended for individuals who have had joint replacements, as these individuals have a compromised immune system that makes them less able to fight infections. But such recommendation is no longer followed.

Other conditions that may warrant antibiotic prophylaxis include uncontrolled or poorly-controlled diabetes, HIV infection or AIDS, and rheumatoid arthritis. Individuals who have had chemotherapy or organ transplant may also need antibiotic prophylaxis.

Will I need antibiotic prophylaxis even if I’m systemically healthy?

Yes, there will be some instance where antibiotic prophylaxis may be needed. Such instances include:

1) Undergoing an extensive procedure that carries a great risk of infection.

2) Undergoing a procedure that will be performed in an environment where the risk of developing an infection is very likely.

3) When there is a coexisting oral infection.

Which dental procedures may require antibiotic prophylaxis?

Antibiotic prophylaxis is required for any dental procedure where bleeding is anticipated. These include extractions, periodontal treatment (cleaning), implant surgery, root canal therapy, and placement of orthodontic bands. Restorative and prosthodontic procedures generally do not warrant the use of prophylactic antibiotics.

Why can’t all everyone be given antibiotic prophylaxis?

Antibiotic prophylaxis is only used in instances where potential benefits outweigh the risks. If antibiotics are used when they’re not supposed to, there can be side effects that are mostly gastrointestinal in nature. There may also be allergic reactions that can be life-threatening.

Furthermore, frequent use of antibiotics when they are not really needed can render the bacteria more resistant to these medications. With that, antibiotic prophylaxis are reserved only for those at greatest risk getting infected during dental treatment.

When asking for your medical history, be sure to tell your dentist every bit he or she has to know, especially about your medical problems and the medications you are taking for them. These information should help your dentist and physician determine whether or not you could benefit from antibiotic prophylaxis.

Professional vs. DIY Whitening: Which is Better?

If your pearly whites are not as bright as you want them to be, then you probably know that the best solution for this problem is teeth whitening.

But with many options ranging from laser whitening to the less expensive at-home kits, how would you know which one is the best for you.

To help you decide, here are some factors that you should consider when choosing between professional whitening and DIY whitening.

Budget:

If money is the main problem, then DIY whitening is the best option you have. At $15 to $100 tops, they are much cheaper than professional whitening, which costs at least $500 to more than $1200.  The only downside is, you will have to use the DIY whitening kit every day for a couple of months to weeks – but the results are guaranteed.

Meanwhile, you usually need only one appointment for professional whitening.

Severity of Discoloration:

If your teeth are mildly discolored, then DIY whitening must be enough for you. However, if the discoloration is moderate to severe, professional whitening may be required because it uses whitening agents that are in much stronger concentrations. This whitening agent is activated a laser light to produce the whitening effect.

Some causes of severe discolorations, however, may need the combined effect of both professional and DIY teeth whitening.

Risk to Dental Health:

The most common side effect of whitening procedures to the dentition is sensitivity which, although short-term (lasts for a day up to four days), can sometimes be uncomfortable for the patient.

Since professional whitening use stronger whitening agents, sensitivity tend to be worse compared to that of DIY whitening, which has very minimal to none.

Another common side effect is irritation to the surrounding soft tissues which, again, tends to be worse in professional whitening. Your dentist can avoid this by putting a protective gel on the gums.

But if the irritation persists and/or get worse after the procedure, be sure to inform your dentist right away.

Expected Results:

Professional whitening can lighten the teeth by up to seven shades lighter than its original color. Meanwhile, the whitening solutions used in DIY whitening may be too mild to produce dramatic results, especially on severely-discolored teeth. Then again, professional and DIY whitening may be combined if you’re looking for dramatic improvements.

Maintenance:

Teeth whitening treatments, be it professionally-performed or DIY, don’t last forever and will have to be touched-up at some point.

On the average, professional whitening can last up to a year, while DIY whitening can only last half that time.

Take note that these durations are only the average, and can be shorter and longer depending on several factors. These include diet, habits, and oral hygiene practices to name a few. If you smoke and/or consume dark-colored foods and beverages (i.e. berries, coffee, tea) on a regular basis, then you will be needing touchups much sooner and more often.

On the other hand, good oral hygiene practices shall make the whitening effect last much longer.

Top 5 Foods that Help Bust Bad Breath

We all know how foods like onion and garlic cause bad breath due to the pungent oils they produce. Fortunately, there are also foods that have the opposite effect. These foods can help bust bad breath, but only temporarily – like an hour or two. Nonetheless, this is already enough time until you are able to do something about the real cause – the odor-causing bacteria in the mouth.

Green Tea

We are all aware of the many health benefits green tea has, so it is not surprising that this wonder beverage can also fight bad breath. The bad breath-fighting ability of green tea is attributed to the chemical called cathecin. Cathecin is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight the bacteria that causes the foul odor. This compound is effective not only against odor-causing bacteria, but also against other harmful bacteria in the mouth.

In fact, according to some sources, green tea is more effective than mints in masking bad breath.

In addition to fighting bacteria, green can also reduce the amounts of volatile sulfur compounds in the mouth, which is the actual cause of the bad breath.

Parsley

Parsley is another popular remedy to bad breath, next only to green tea. Its odor-fighting ability is due to a compound called chlorophyll, which is found mostly in green and leafy plants. Chlorophyll has a strong scent that follows the sulfur compounds all the way to the bloodstream and lungs, thereby masking the smell when you breathe.

Yogurt

Yogurt contains live cultures of good bacteria that can effectively combat the bad bacteria that cause foul breath. In addition, it can neutralize the volatile sulfur compounds, particularly hydrogen sulfide, produced by these bad bacteria. But to be more effective, you have to consume one that’s free of sugar.

Fibrous Fruits and Vegetables

Fibrous fruits help get rid of bad breath by mechanically removing bacteria much like brushing does. They also stimulate the production of saliva which helps wash away the odor-producing bacterial by-products. Apples, pears, carrots, celery, and cucumbers are the most effective for this purpose.

Nuts

Nuts like almonds and walnuts work in pretty the same way as your fibrous fruits and vegetables because they are also loaded with fiber. Likewise, they are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids which can help reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth.

Take note that while the foods listed above are effective in masking foul breath, they should not, in any way, be a substitute to your oral hygiene practices. The solution they provide is only temporary. The more permanent solution is (and always will be) brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day. When brushing your teeth, be sure to brush your tongue as well because it is where odor-causing bacteria thrive the most.

Furthermore, visit your dentist regularly for checkups and professional cleaning. If you’re bad breath remains persistent, your dentist will refer you to a medical doctor because the foul odor could be a sign of something else.

Things You Should Know About Toothpastes

toothpaste. This toothbrush buddy comes in many forms, and they contain different ingredients. There are ordinary toothpastes, and there are ones formulated for your special needs. Learn more about this oral health goodie below.

What is Toothpaste Made up of?

Different toothpastes contain different list of ingredients, but the general components include the following:

  • Abrasives – along with your toothbrush, aid in the mechanical removal of debris and surface stains.

  • Fluoride – makes the teeth stronger by rendering it more resistant to the acids produced by decay-causing bacteria.

  • Humectant – retains water and prevents your toothpaste from drying out and getting lumpy or gummy.

  • Detergent – acts as foaming agent that helps spread the toothpaste around the mouth; it also has some cleaning action.

  • Binder – thickening agent; it helps stabilize and hold the toothpaste formula together.

  • Flavoring Agents – add some sweetness and scent to your toothpaste, making it more pleasant to use.

Why are Some Toothpaste More Expensive than Others?

Even though they have the same basic ingredients, not all toothpastes are created equal. Depending on the type of toothpaste, some special ingredients are added for increased benefits, hence the higher price. These include ingredients that are especially formulated for tartar control, whitening, and relief of sensitivity. More often than not, the most expensive toothpastes are the ones for sensitivity.

What are the Different Types of Toothpastes?

Toothpastes are classified based on what oral health problem they were formulated for. These types include:

  • Fluoride Toothpastes – these are your ordinary toothpastes which are formulated to fight and prevent tooth decay. As the name suggests, the main ingredient is fluoride. Fluoride strengthens the enamel and makes it less susceptible to tooth decay. And if tooth decay is already there, fluoride toothpastes may also aid in the arresting the decay process.

  • Tartar Control Toothpastes – these toothpastes do not move tartar deposits per se; rather, they work to remove as much plaque as possible to prevent further tartar buildup. Some manufacturers claim that this type may also work to soften the deposits.

  • Whitening Toothpastes – if you’re looking to give your smile a little bit of sparkle, then this type of toothpaste is your best bet. Whitening toothpastes have more abrasives than ordinary toothpastes, allowing them to be more effective in removing surface stains. Some may also have bleaching ingredients like peroxides, or polishing agents that makes the teeth shinier.

Take note that whitening toothpastes are intended only to restore the natural color of your teeth. It won’t make your teeth any whiter than its natural shade.

  • Desensitizing Toothpastes – this type is prescribed for individuals who experience sensitivity, either as a result of tooth decay or gum disease.

Desensitizing toothpastes contain compounds that work to physically block the exposed tubules of the tooth. These tubules connect directly to the nerves in the pulp, causing sensitivity. Blocking these tubules brings quick relief from sensitivity.

Which Type of Toothpaste is the Best?

The best toothpaste for you depends on what your oral health needs are. But no matter which one you choose or which one your dentist prescribes, always make sure that it has a seal of approval by the American Dental Association.

Caring For Your Toothbrush

A good oral hygiene plays the most important role in taking care of your pearly whites. But to keep your teeth healthy for longer, you also have to do proper care and maintenance of one of the tools that helps you do so – your toothbrush.

Here are some general considerations on how to take care of your favorite oral hygiene buddy, as recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA).

NEVER Share Your Toothbrush with Anyone.

The oral cavity is loaded with millions of microorganisms that may potentially cause infections, both oral and systemic. And these could be transferred to your toothbrush during use.

Sharing your toothbrush with anyone results in the exchange of these microorganisms between users, putting everyone at risk for infections. But individuals with compromised or weakened immune systems or have existing infections are at greater risk.

Rinse Your Toothbrush Thoroughly After Every Use.

Rinse your toothbrush under running water after brushing to wash off any remaining toothpaste and other debris.

Some individuals soak their toothbrush in an antibacterial mouthwash, while others use commercially-available sanitizing solutions for toothbrushes. Both methods are acceptable. A dishwasher may also be used, but not for long periods.

Allow Your Toothbrush to air-dry After Rinsing.

Put your toothbrush in an upright position and let it air-dry until your next use. If two or more toothbrushes are stored in the same holder, keep them apart to prevent cross-contamination.

Avoid storing your toothbrush in closed containers. A closed container provides moist environment which is conducive for growth of microorganisms.

Use Proper Brushing Techniques.

How well you care for your toothbrush is just as important as the care you give your teeth. When you brush, do it gently using short strokes instead of long, hard strokes. Vigorous brushing makes the bristles get worn easily.

Replace Your Toothbrush Every 3 to 4 Months.

Even if you follow all the tips given above, they would still be useless if you don’t replace your toothbrush on a regular basis.

The ADA recommends getting a new toothbrush every 3 to 4 months or as soon as the bristles start to look worn and discolored from everyday use. Worn toothbrushes clean much less effectively, particularly on areas where plaque accumulates the most – underneath the gums and in between the teeth.

Now, the rates at which toothbrushes wear out depend on factors unique to every individual.

Check your toothbrush regularly, look out for signs of wear, and replace as needed. Even if you don’t see any obvious signs of wear and tear, you still need to change your toothbrush regularly because they often have microorganisms which can build up to significant levels over time.

Children’s toothbrushes may need to be replaced more frequently than adult brushes. Also, you may have to replace your toothbrush much sooner if you get colds or other viral infection.

But no matter how often you get a new toothbrush, replacing them ensures that you have a clean, efficient brush that will optimally clean your teeth and provide you with a healthy smile for life.