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How Often Should You Be Replacing Your Toothbrush?

toothbrush An essential part of taking care of your dental health is having the right tools for the job. Much like you can’t build an entire house with only a handful of nails, you can’t fully take care of your teeth without any tools. One of the most important tools in your oral health lineup is your toothbrush. This simple item is the heavy lifter. It clears debris from your teeth, brushes away plaque and keeps your teeth shining bright. Without a toothbrush, you would suffer from more dental problems than you might realize.

Like other tools, a toothbrush can wear out after extended periods of use. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize that their toothbrushes only last for a certain length. And once they reach the end of their life, they become more harmful than helpful. So, how often should you be replacing your toothbrush?

The Recommendation

The American Dental Association (ADA), recommends you replace your toothbrush at least once every three to four months. However, this can change based on your specific situations. If you’ve recently been sick, you should probably replace your toothbrush as soon as you get better so you’re not constantly putting those germs back in your mouth. If your bristles are frayed and worn before the three to four month mark, you should also probably replace your brush at that time, too. Pay attention to the condition of your toothbrush and make the decision as you see fit.

Maintain Your Toothbrush

While toothbrushes aren’t necessarily expensive, it can be annoying to have to go to the store every two weeks to buy a new toothbrush. This might need to happen if you aren’t properly maintaining your toothbrush. It’s important that you keep your toothbrush clean and in good overall condition so you don’t constantly have to replace it.

To maintain your toothbrush, rinse it with tap water after use and store it in a vertical position to let the bristles dry. Take note of how hard you brush. Hard brushing not only wears down your toothbrush’s bristles, it can also wear down your enamel quicker than normal.

Consider Upgrading Your Brush

When it comes time to replace your toothbrush, it’s also a good time to consider whether you want to upgrade to something with a little more power. Manual toothbrushes are the most common types of toothbrushes, but many people are making the switch to electric versions. Electric toothbrushes can provide a more comprehensive clean overall, making them worth the higher price. Some electric toothbrushes even include extra features that indicate when you’ve brushed long enough or warn you when you’re brushing too hard.

Work with Your Dentist

If you ever have concerns over choosing the right toothbrush for your teeth or for deciding when it’s time to replace your toothbrush, don’t be afraid to talk to us during your dental checkups! Our dentists can help you choose the right tool to take care of your oral health so you can easily work toward and maintain a healthy, bright smile.

The Risks and Facts About Oral Cancer

The word “cancer” is never something that one wants to hear. No matter what type, where it is in the body, or which stage is in, it is just plain and simply an unkind and often fatal disease. Although it is nasty no matter how you look at it, we are going to take a closer look the specific role it plays within the mouth: oral cancer.

According to The Oral Cancer Foundation: “Close to 48,250 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year, causing 9,575 deaths, killing roughly 1 person per hour, 24 hours per day. Of those 48,250 newly diagnosed individuals, only slightly more than half will be alive in 5 years.”

Terrifying right? Let’s take a closer look at causes and facts that are connected to this horrible disease:

There are several known risks that can lead to oral cancer, but some who develop this disease have no affiliation to any of these risk factors at all. And some who have several of these risk factors never develop the disease at all. However, the human “rule of thumb” is always “better safe than sorry.”

Here is a look at some of the risk factors that could lead to oral cancer:

  • Poor Nutrition – Your parents didn’t make you eat your fruits and vegetables strictly because they enjoyed torturing you. The nutritional value of these super foods benefit you in many ways. They help give you a healthy body and mind. But beyond that, there is an increased risk for oral cancer in those who have a low fruits and vegetables diet. Have a salad, eat an apple, munch on some greens. Your oral health (and overall wellbeing) will thank you
  • Tobacco – This one is obvious. Everyone knows the dangers of smoking, chewing, or any other type of tobacco use, yet there are still people in this world who are willing to take that risk. Close to 90% of people who have oral cancer have been linked to tobacco use. Someone who smokes is 6 times more likely to get this disease and those who use smokeless tobacco (chew) increase their risk among the tobacco users by 50%. The direct contact to the lips and gums gives the disease a faster route to destroying your mouth, life, and can even be the cause of death
  • Alcohol – This on its own can increase the risk of developing oral cancer, but in conjunction with smoking they tend to amplify each other making the risk all the more serious. Heavy alcohol consumption mixed with tobacco use can be a deadly combination
  • Ultraviolet Light – Summer days’ equal barbeques, swimming pools, baseball games, and all sorts of outdoor fun, but the sun’s ultraviolet rays are our skins enemy. Many of those who develop oral cancer have outdoor occupations. Prolonged exposure to the sunlight can cause cancers of the lip. Any time you spend the day basking in the warmth of the sun, wear sunscreen and apply it often
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – This sexually transmitted virus has been linked to the development of oral cancer in nearly 20 percent of people who have the disease
  • Age – Age is the one thing that none of us can avoid, no matter how hard we try. As we grow older our bodies decide to shut down in various ways. Unfortunately, the likelihood of developing oral cancer increases with age as well. Half of all cases fall into the age category of 45 and above

Here are some common symptoms of oral cancer:

  • Persistent bad breath
  • Lump or mass in the neck
  • Lump or mass in the cheek
  • Persistent pain in the mouth
  • Sore within the mouth that won’t heal
  • Numbness of the tongue or other areas of the mouth
  • Difficulty moving the tongue or jaw
  • White or red patches on the gums, tonsil, tongue, or lining of the mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing or chewing
  • Swelling of the jaw
  • Tooth pain or loosening around the jaw
  • Changes in voice
  • Unintentional weight loss

If you have experienced any of these symptoms, and they have lasted more than two weeks, it is important to have a health care professional take a look at what may be causing them. Oral cancer is no joke and regular visits to our office can be the difference between life and death. When oral cancer is caught early there is a higher chance of successful treatment. The longer it persists, the greater chance of it becoming fatal. If you have any unanswered questions about the risks of oral cancer, call our office and our knowledgeable staff will be happy to help.