We know and love our toothbrushes as the tools that kick plaque to the curb, help keep cavities at bay (with the help of fluoride toothpaste, of course) and freshen our breath. But what else can we learn about them? Read on for some toothbrush facts.
– The toothbrush is 5,000 years old.
In various forms, that is. Ancient civilizations used a “chew stick,” a thin twig with a frayed end, to remove food from their teeth. Over time, toothbrushes evolved and were made from bone, wood or ivory handles and stiff bristles of hogs, boars or other animals. The modern nylon-bristled toothbrush we use today was invented in 1938.
– When selecting your toothbrush, look for the ADA Seal.The ADA Seal of Acceptance is the gold standard for toothbrush quality. It’s how you’ll know an independent body of scientific experts, the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs, evaluated your toothbrush to make sure bristles won’t fall out with normal use, the handle will stay strong and the toothbrush will help reduce your risk for cavities and gum disease.
– Manual or powered? Your teeth don’t care.In the manual and powered toothbrush debate, it’s a wash. You just need to brush twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste. (If your toothpaste has the ADA Seal, you’ll know it has fluoride.) Both types of toothbrush can effectively and thoroughly clean your teeth. It all depends on which one you prefer. People who find it difficult to use a manual toothbrush may find a powered toothbrush more comfortable. Talk to your dentist about which kind is best for you.
– Toothbrushes like to be left out in the open.Cleaning your toothbrush is easy: Rinse it with tap water to remove any remaining toothpaste and debris. Store it upright and allow it to air dry. If you store your toothbrush with other toothbrushes, make sure they are separated to prevent cross contamination. And 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 unwanted bacteria than the open air.
– Lifespan = 3-4 MonthsMake sure to replace your toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush won’t do as good of a job cleaning your teeth.
– When it comes to choosing a brush, go soft.Whether you use a manual or powered toothbrush, choose a soft-bristled brush. Firm or even medium-strength bristles may cause damage to your gums and enamel. When brushing your teeth, don’t scrub vigorously—only brush hard enough to clean the film off your teeth. Your fluoride toothpaste will do the rest of the work.
– Sharing is caring, but not for toothbrushes.Sharing a toothbrush can mean you’re also sharing germs and bacteria. This could be a particular concern if you have a cold or flu to spread, or you have a condition that leaves your immune system compromised.
Finally, always look for the ADA Seal when selecting toothpaste. The Seal helps you make sure you are choosing the best toothpaste for your dental needs. It’s also your assurance that the toothpaste has met the ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness, and that it does what it says. Visit the ADA website for more information about the ADA Seal of Acceptance and toothpaste.
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