There are a few things that you can do to help prolong the life of a toothbrush. Of chief importance is that the toothbrush is well-rinsed and stored in an upright position. This helps to rinse away the toothpaste, food debris and plaque, and microorganisms that may accumulate on your toothbrush as you brush.
You can also sanitize your toothbrush to help prolong its life, although this is optional. There are commercially available toothbrush sanitizers, which may help clean the microorganisms from the toothbrush. To be allowed to advertise as a sanitizer, companies have to submit data to the FDA that proves that 99.9% of bacteria is removed after use.
While these are effective, toothbrush sanitizers probably aren’t necessary since, at this point, data doesn’t really support that healthy individuals are at risk of developing infections from bacterial accumulation on your toothbrush. Your gums and immune system act as defense in protecting you from these bacteria. They may, however, be useful if your toothbrush gets dropped on the bathroom floor. If you’re concerned about bacterial buildup on your toothbrush, these are an excellent option to help put your mind at ease.
You could also place your toothbrush in the dishwasher if it has a sanitation or sterilization cycle. Be advised that not all toothbrushes will stand up to that heat (and obviously electric toothbrushes would be ruined after a cycle in the dishwasher!). If you choose to “sanitize” your toothbrush in the dishwasher, be sure to inspect it after to ensure that the bristles haven’t frayed or melted together.
The final thing you can do to ensure that your child’s toothbrush lasts as long as possible is to be active and assist them with their toothbrushing. This allows you to keep an eye on the toothbrush, preventing them from chewing on the bristles, and knowing when they are worn out and ready for replacement.
We’ve talked about this before, but children lack the dexterity to effectively brush their own teeth until they are at least 10 years old. Hopefully, you’re already doing this, but if not, maybe it could be one of your New Year’s Resolutions!