How your patients take care of their teeth outside your dental office is even more important than what you do in it. One thing patients often neglect is to change their toothbrushes when they should. Here are 3+1 instances when you should instruct them to change.
Not replacing a toothbrush when due can not only impact the quality of regular brushing efficiency, but also place your patients at risk of infection and disease. One of the responsibilities of dental professionals like you is to instruct them when to change their toothbrush. So when should they?
Rule 1: Every three months
The most common mistake patients do is to use their brush for too long.
Barring illness, every toothbrush should be replaced once in 3 months, for 2 reasons:
- Even with proper rinsing, bacteria can accumulate in the brush (since they thrive in a damp environment)
- Due to mechanical wear, an overused toothbrush no longer properly removes plaque
Therefore, remember to remind your patients to change their toothbrushes if they’ve already been using it for three months.
Rule 2: After every illness
While a new toothbrush once in 3 months is sufficient in optimal conditions, using it after being sick can lead to repeated illness. Germs can survive and replicate on the toothbrush even after your patients recover, hence replacing it immediately after an illness is important.
No matter how long a brush has been in use, advise your patients to replace it if they’ve been sick.
Rule 3: If the toothbrush wears too quickly
All quality toothbrushes should be expected to last for 3 months of daily use and still be in good condition. This is also valid with toothbrushes with a large number of bristles, and in the end, it all comes down to proper technique.
Some patients wear their brushes out sooner, which is often a sign of poor brushing technique. It’s therefore a good idea to check in with your patients to see whether they don’t wear their brushes out too fast. If they do, reporting the bristles to be frayed and bent after only days or weeks of use, they likely push too hard.
The best course is then to instruct them on the proper use of the toothbrush, since brushing too hard can hurt their teeth and gums.
Bonus rule: Don’t forget interdental brushes
If your patients are not yet using interdental brushes, they should. Interdental brushes greatly contribute to healthy teeth and fresh breath, but they also serve as direct prevention against periodontal disease. By helping keep the gingiva and periodontum healthy, their proper and regular use can help protect your patients from a range of non-communicable diseases far beyond oral health, such as Alzheimer’s, cancers, diabetes, arthritis and more.
One simple tip when your patients should replace their interdental brushes: when the bristles are no longer straight and wide. That’s when they stop cleaning efficiently and need to be replaced.
If your patients don’t use these yet, the thing to do is to calibrate their instructing them on proper and daily use of calibrated interdental brushes.