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It’s the start of a new year, and if you haven’t done so recently, it is probably time to replace your toothbrush. Though it comes as a surprise to many people, the truth is, toothbrushes should only be kept for 3-4 months. Brushes should be replaced sooner if the bristles are worn out, frayed, or damaged in any way, or if the brush becomes contaminated. Ask your dentist for toothbrush recommendations.

When using your new toothbrush, brush gently and consistently. Brushing harshly can damage tooth enamel, gum tissue, or the toothbrush itself. Place your toothbrush at a 45* angle to your gums, then use short, back-and-forth strokes to clean your teeth. This method–combined with proper flossing–should remove plaque and debris from teeth without causing unnecessary damage, reducing risks of cavities and other dental emergencies. Be sure to clean the outside, inside, and chewing surfaces of each tooth.

When you are finished brushing, rinse your toothbrush thoroughly with warm water to remove any remaining toothpaste, food particles, bacteria, or other foreign substances. Store upright in a well-ventilated area. Storing your toothbrush in a closed space can greatly increase bacterial growth rates, which can lead to a contaminated brush. If you must store it in a closed area, for example, a zip-top bag for traveling purposes, do so for only short periods of time and air it out as often as possible.

For more information, call Lonestar Dental Center in Humble, Texas, at 281-233-0333. Dr. Ahmad J Akram and our team are happy to help you keep your smile healthy!