NCDS Newsroom


Five things you didn't know about your toothbrush

You use it twice each day, but there’s a lot about your toothbrush that you probably haven’t considered.

CARY, N.C. – You use it twice each day, but there’s a lot about your toothbrush that you probably haven’t considered. It’s the most effective tool for removing plaque, preventing cavities and freshening your breath, so the North Carolina Dental Society wants to ensure you’re using it properly.

“Your toothbrush is your first line of defense against cavities and gum disease,” said Dr. Joye Warr of Warr Pediatric Dental Associates in High Point. “Learning to properly use, clean and replace your toothbrush can go a long way in keeping you and your mouth healthy.”

Beyond brushing twice a day, how do you know you’re choosing the right toothbrush and using it properly? The North Carolina Dental Society sheds light on five common questions about your toothbrush:

1. Should you opt for manual or electric? The good news is that it’s completely up to you. Both types of toothbrushes can thoroughly and effectively clean your teeth. Ensuring you’ve mastered the brushing motion is a better predictor of how much plaque you’re removing, so talk to your dentist about proper technique.

2. What’s the best way to keep it clean? After brushing, rinse your toothbrush in hot water to kill germs and bacteria. Store it upright and allow it to air dry, ideally an inch away from other family members’ brushes to avoid cross-contamination. 

3. Are hard bristles better for removing plaque? Actually, no. Always choose a toothbrush with soft bristles. Firm toothbrushes can damage your gums and enamel. Only brush hard enough to clean the film off your teeth; your fluoride toothpaste will do the rest of the work.

4. Should you brush or floss first? It doesn’t matter whether you brush before flossing, or floss before brushing. As long as you’re brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing once daily, you are on the right track.

5. How often should you replace your toothbrush? A toothbrush’s lifespan is just three to four months. While your dentist will probably give you a new brush at your six-month checkup, you should replace it at least one other time between visits. If the bristles begin fray or you have the cold or flu, it’s also time for a new toothbrush.

To learn more about choosing a toothbrush and proper oral hygiene, visit or consult a dentist in your area.


About the North Carolina Dental Society

The North Carolina Dental Society was founded in 1856 and is one of the oldest dental societies in the country. The NCDS represents 3,700 member dentists in North Carolina. Headquartered in Cary, our mission is to help all members succeed. For more information about the NCDS, visit The North Carolina Dental Society is a part of the American Dental Association, the nation's largest dental association, representing 161,000 dentist members.