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Your toothbrush has a big job to do: keeping your mouth and teeth clean and free of bacteria, plaque and tartar. But what about cleaning your toothbrush?

The best way to keep your toothbrush clean is to rinse it thoroughly under warm water. That should be enough to remove any food particles or toothpaste that are still present on the head of the brush. There is nothing wrong with soaking it in an antibacterial mouthwash, but soak it for no more than 15 minutes. Soaking it any longer could damage the bristles.

Other things that might seem like great ideas, but could do more harm than good include trying to sterilize your toothbrush in the microwave, running it through the dishwasher, or using an ultraviolet device to sterilize it. All of those things can damage the bristles of your toothbrush. And, you need the bristles to be in good shape.

So, cleaning your toothbrush is relatively easy. Keeping it clean is a little more involved, but not much. You should store your toothbrush upright and in the open air where it can properly dry. If left enclosed or covered, your toothbrush could become a breeding ground for bacteria or even mold.

Keeping your toothbrush clean also means not sharing it with another person, and not storing it near other toothbrushes. Doing so can lead to cross-contamination and the passing of bacteria from one person to another. If you, or a person in your household becomes sick, you should replace your toothbrushes and make sure that they are stored separately from one another. In fact, if someone is ill, it might be a good idea for that person to use a disposable toothbrush.

Finally, replacing your toothbrush every three months will help ensure that you are not using a brush that has a long-term buildup of bacteria, and that the bristles are in good shape.

If you have questions about oral hygiene, or it is just time for a cleaning and exam for you or a member of your family, our dentists Dr.Jessica G. McConnell, DDS and Dr. Daniel J. Woolf, DDS at McConnell and Woolf Family Dentistry in Fuquay Varina, North Carolina, would be happy to see you. Make an appointment today by calling 919-552-5113.