Caring for Your Toothbrush

Every morning and each night before bed, we employ an oral hygiene instrument: the toothbrush.

Brushing your teeth is more critical to maintaining a healthy mouth.

Brushing our teeth is also regarded as a critical practice when it comes to good oral health. All dental professionals would agree.

We are told to brush our teeth at least twice daily, after every meal, or at least before going to bed.

Toothbrushes have been a reliable companion when it comes to avoiding cavities and keeping our breath fresh. However, just like toothbrushes care for our oral health, they require general upkeep and proper use to maintain their adequate function.

According to dentists, toothbrushes can tarnish with oral microbial organisms. Unfortunately, bacteria and viruses can live for several weeks on a toothbrush’s surface. This is especially true if the brush user is currently sick or has an infection.

5 More Tips to Keep Your Toothbrush Clean

Tip #1: Do Not Share

Sharing is caring, but not when it comes to your toothbrush. Sharing it is not generosity but a dangerous move that can cause you and the other person detrimental consequences.

When you share your toothbrush, you increase the risk of infections, which can significantly compromise your oral health. When it comes to your oral care devices, a bit of selfishness will be more appreciated by your oral cavity.

Tip #2: Wash It After Use

Ensure you rid your toothbrush of any debris and toothpaste every after use to avoid bacteria from lingering on your toothbrush. Using running water, rinse it thoroughly until no trace of leftover food or toothpaste is found.

Tip #3: Allow It To Dry

After washing, put your toothbrush in an upright position. By doing so, you allow it to air-dry. Too much moisture can contribute to the growth of microorganisms.

Tip #4: Do Not Store It In Closed Containers

Avoid storing your toothbrush, especially when wet, in sealed containers. As mentioned in number three, letting it properly dry can reduce the growth of microorganisms. You can still cover it, but make sure to use a cover that can allow air to circulate to prevent mold formation.

Tip #5: Store Toothbrushes Separately

When storing your brush, remember to give adequate space between other family members’ brushes to prevent the bristles from touching each other. Otherwise, this can lead to cross-contamination. Allotting separate holders is recommended.

Tip #6: Replace It

Toothbrushes must be replaced after every three to four months. You should also get yourself a new brush if you notice that the bristles are starting to wear away. Frayed bristles are not as effective in cleaning your pearly whites.

Recycle Your Toothbrush When Finished 

Growing up, we’ve heard a barrage of aphorisms about taking care of our health. Especially our oral health. Brush your teeth twice a day. Floss regularly. Don’t go to sleep after eating sugar. And always—always—change your toothbrush after three months. But while the last point does serve hygienic purposes, it’s not exactly the best thing for the environment. (In a National Geographic feature, Kahi Pacarro of Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii notes that “it’s not uncommon to pick up” 20-100 toothbrushes during a clean-up.) For Beaconsfield, Montreal, the solution is simple: recycle your toothbrushes.

Of course, this isn’t some groundbreaking discovery. And Beaconsfield isn’t the only place in the world that has this initiative. But with plastic toothbrushes steadily becoming a significant source of waste in the environment, taking your used toothbrush to a recycling center becomes all the more consequential.

But why should we recycle toothbrushes? And why is this move by Beaconsfield so important?

A solution to the growing amount of toothbrushes in landfills

For the most part, we’ve moved on to more sustainable forms of waste management. Despite this, landfills still play a significant role in the way we throw away our trash. 

It’s not hard to see why. It is, after all, the way we’ve stored our waste for the past centuries. And because most of our refuse is unrecyclable and non-biodegradable, they won’t be going anywhere any time soon. 

But while they still serve a purpose, that doesn’t mean they don’t have their share of risks. Modern landfills aim to isolate the trash from the rest of the surroundings, so they never decompose. And because you need a place to bury the waste in a landfill, it isn’t a sustainable way to dispose of one’s garbage.

It’s no wonder, then, why waste reduction became a rallying cry in recent years. In 2013 Beaconsfield was noted for being “one of the biggest producers of garbage” in Montreal. Aside from its recycling centers, the city implemented a system where residents pay a garbage collection charge based on their bins’ size and the frequency of their collection. 

Toothbrushes and other oral implements continued to be a source of waste, however. Residents began to place them in the inappropriate bins, so city officials decided to put a separate box for oral hygiene products. 

But why should you recycle toothbrushes?

Now that we know a little about how landfills work, we know how important it is to reduce waste. Particularly if we don’t want the planet to be overrun with garbage. And with toothbrushes being a significant source of non-biodegradable waste, the importance of recycling toothbrushes has become all the more evident. 

Because you need to frequently replace your toothbrushes, it’s easy for them to pile over time in the garbage bin. Plastic toothbrushes are notorious for their long decomposition time, which is why they often end up in the ocean. Unfortunately, there’s still a high demand for these disposable plastics—particularly in the tourism industry, where hotels and other accommodations often give out complimentary oral hygiene products. 

Thankfully, there are a few alternatives. One is to change up what the toothbrush is made of—instead of plastic, there are other brushes made from bamboo and other eco-friendly materials. Of course, the other is to recycle those toothbrushes in a recycling center so that they could be used for different products. And with the many ways, we can reduce waste, the need for landfills will hopefully be a thing of the past.  

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