Proper oral health begins with attention to details in your daily dental routine. From brushing to flossing, and every bite of food or sip of drink between, the key to success for your oral health is in your hands — quite literally, since that’s where you hold your toothbrush.
How important is your toothbrush to your overall good oral and physical health? More important than you may realize, which is why it’s so important to replace your toothbrush frequently.
Reasons to Change Your Toothbrush
There are a few reasons it’s important to change your toothbrush often, including the following:
- Toothbrushes wear down, and bristles break off, making them less effective at removing plaque over time.
- Germs from colds and other illnesses can linger on a toothbrush, increasing the risks of reinfection.
- Bacteria build up on your toothbrush, as bathrooms are havens for various contaminants.
- Frayed bristles may become sharp and cut your gums, leaving your entire mouth vulnerable to infections, reinfections and more.
- Dropped toothbrushes can acquire germs and bacteria from the floor.
Reasons abound to change your toothbrush frequently. All of them add up to better oral health and hygiene for you and your family.
How Often Should You Change Your Toothbrush?
The Canadian Dental Association recommends you change your toothbrush every three months. However, the Alberta Dental Association and College suggests parents replace a child’s toothbrush immediately after any illness, and admonishes members of a household never to share toothbrushes.
It’s useful to have additional toothbrushes on hand at all times for each member of your household. That way, there is always an extra if one gets dropped into the waste bin or a child becomes ill and requires a new toothbrush.
Why You Should Repurpose or Reuse Your Old Toothbrush
Because toothbrushes need to be changed so frequently, it’s a wise plan for families to seek new uses for old toothbrushes to help keep them out of landfills and give them a new purpose.
It is especially necessary and prudent to recycle old toothbrushes, as Canadian landfills are rapidly approaching capacity.
Canadians can take action on individual levels to reduce, reuse and recycle used toothbrushes.
These three tenets of conservation are critical for protecting the planet and helping reduce Canada’s methane emissions, 25 percent of which come from area landfills. Recycling is essential for reducing the waste finding its way into Canadian landfills, while conserving natural resources.
While each toothbrush may not take up a great amount of space in the landfill, imagine if all 36.9 million Canadians contributed four toothbrushes per person each year to their local landfills. They would fill up considerably faster.
Also, note if you use an electric toothbrush, it likely contains rechargeable batteries, which you should recycle. Because rechargeable batteries consist of heavy metals, such as cadmium, zinc and nickel, they could be damaging to the health of both humans and the environment. Check with your local waste company or electronic recycling organizations to see if they have drop-off events and locations for your rechargeable batteries.
To help the cause of reducing the size and growth of landfills, you can consider purchasing a toothbrush with replacement heads. In this way, you can extend the life of the handle and replace the brush head at recommended intervals.
Uses for an Old Toothbrush
The good news is, there are many non-dental uses for a toothbrush, so you never need to worry about adding new toothbrushes to the burden of local landfills. In fact, you might discover a few new ways you’ve never before considered for putting your tired, old toothbrush to beneficial use once you’ve explored this list.
Using Your Old Toothbrush: In the Kitchen
The kitchen is an excellent location for putting your old toothbrush to work for something other than your teeth. Consider one of the following ways your old toothbrush can help transform your kitchen duties:
- Scrub potatoes, squash, carrots and other vegetables.
- Clean small appliances so they sparkle and shine, including the door of the microwave or the grooves in a waffle iron.
- Remove corn silk.
- Scrub hard-to-reach places around faucets, seams and caulking around the sink.
- Brush your cheese grater.
- Clean your cutting boards, lids of food storage containers and other items with grooves where food and other unpleasant things tend to congregate.
As you can see, there are more than a few fantastic ways to breathe new life into your old toothbrush by taking it into the kitchen for a variety of necessary cleaning tasks.
Using Your Old Toothbrush: In the Bathroom
Toothbrushes are designed to clean the surfaces of your teeth, as well as the spaces between them. But did you know an old toothbrush is also an undisputed winner when you use it to clean the grout between bathroom tiles and the caulking around your tub? As long as you don’t scrub so hard you damage the caulking and grout, old toothbrushes make short work of that chore. Other ways your toothbrush is a winner in the bathroom include the following.
- Clean the area around the faucets of your sink and shower.
- Scrub the tracks on sliding shower doors.
- Brush the area around the hair trap in sinks and showers.
- Scour the hinges on toilets, which are nearly impossible to clean any other way.
You can even use your old toothbrush to help clean the area around your baseboards in the bathroom so they look as good as new, no matter how long it’s been since you’ve freshened up the paint job.
Using Your Old Toothbrush: General Household Cleaning
While your old toothbrush has a second and third life in the bathroom and kitchen, you can also use it for general household cleaning chores, like these:
- Use your old toothbrush to scrub laundry detergent or stain-fighting liquids into stains on clothing.
- Clean your blinds like a professional by using a toothbrush on the various grooves and crevices.
- Eliminate carpet stains by scrubbing carpet cleaning solutions into the affected area.
- Buff your jewelry. It can be ideal for cleaning the most delicate jewelry pieces and making them sparkle.
- Scrub your HVAC vents with a toothbrush to improve airflow, eliminate allergens and contaminants and make your vents look like you’ve had a professional house cleaning service come into your home.
- Clean the grime off computer keyboards.
- Keep your fish tank accessories sparkling clean and free of the film collecting on them by scrubbing periodically with an old toothbrush.
- Remove scuff marks from shoes and the floor.
- Eliminate crayon stains from your walls.
- Remove debris and other nastiness your children track inside your home on the treads of their shoes.
Using Your Old Toothbrush: Outdoors
The next big job to tackle with your old toothbrush is the great outdoors — at least, the outdoors outside your home. You might be surprised to discover the numerous ways your old toothbrush can make cleaning easier outside your home, as well as in.
- Clean bicycle chains with an old toothbrush. It sounds crazy, but few things are designed better to get in between the many grooves on a bicycle chain.
- Remove dirt and grime from gardening pots and tools.
- Detail your car with your old toothbrush to get into all the nooks and crannies for an in-depth cleaning and detailing job. Your car will look better than new when finished.
- Clean the rims in your car.
- Remove pebbles and other items from tire treads — the plastic end works well for this endeavour.
You can also use your old toothbrushes to take care of some heavy-duty cleaning tasks, like cleaning the spark plugs for your car. Some people recommend wire brushes for this task, while others claim gasoline and a toothbrush will do the trick. The possibilities are nearly endless.
Using Your Old Toothbrush: Personal Grooming
Believe it or not, your toothbrush isn’t just for cleaning those pearly whites anymore. Today, you can repurpose your toothbrush for a wide range of grooming tasks, including any and all of the tasks listed below.
- Tame your unruly brows. Your toothbrush is a highly useful tool for shaping your brows.
- Apply hair colour to your roots. The small head of your toothbrush allows you to do precision work when it comes to colouring your roots and provides fuller coverage.
- Exfoliate your lips. The bristles of an old toothbrush are ideal for sloughing rough skin from your lips, keeping them soft and kissable.
- Tame fine, flyaway hairs. Just spray hairspray on the bristles of the toothbrush and use it on your stray strands to put them in their places.
- Remove hair from your hairbrush or comb. Toothbrushes are also great for removing hairspray buildup from your brush.
- Clean your fingernails. It doesn’t take much for dirt and grime to collect under your fingernails. Toothbrushes get in the nooks and crannies for a thorough cleaning.
- Soften cuticles. Massage petroleum jelly into your nails with an old electric toothbrush.
- Whiten toenails. You can mix baking soda and hydrogen peroxide into a paste, then scrub it into your nails with an old toothbrush. Allow it to set for five to 10 minutes, then rinse.
- Apply dry shampoo to remove all signs of oiliness and restore lift and bounce. Use an old toothbrush to apply the dry shampoo to the roots of your hair.
- Use to help with the removal of splinters. You might be able to use an old toothbrush to brush off a newly minted splinter.
Whenever you’re ready to give your grooming routine a significant facelift, bringing a toothbrush into the mix is something to try.
Using Your Old Toothbrush: Arts and Crafts
The wonderful thing about using old toothbrushes for your craft projects with children is you teach them a few important lessons along the way, such as these:
- Repurposing items is a crucial tool for protecting the planet.
- Toothbrushes can be fun.
- The importance of thinking outside the box and seeking out new ways to use many tools they have at their disposal in life.
Fortunately, you can apply fun and inspiring ways to use your old toothbrushes to create fabulous craft projects for your children. Here are some examples to get you started.
- Create splatter art: Tear off a few sheets of wax paper and place a dollop of different-coloured paint on each one. Allow your child to dip the bristles of a toothbrush in and splash the paint onto a canvas, T-shirt or art paper to create a masterpiece.
- Fluffing yarn for needle art: Anyone who does a great deal of needle art will occasionally run into projects requiring fluffing of threads, yarn, floss, etc. Toothbrushes are ideal for the fluffing process and worth keeping in your kit for just this purpose.
- Assist in rug-making: People who make rugs by hand will often file down old toothbrushes to create the perfect needles for their crafts. It’s an authentic and inexpensive way to make hand-woven rugs.
Other ways you can use your old toothbrush for arts and crafts projects include:
- Make a sunflower painting.
- Clean calligraphy pens.
- Add texture to clay art.
- Smooth foil for foiling projects.
- Make toothbrush bracelets.
To find even more outstanding and fun ways to reuse or repurpose your old toothbrush for arts and crafts, you only need a little imagination and ingenuity.
Caring for Your Toothbrush
Taking proper care of your toothbrush can protect your health while you use your toothbrush for the three recommended months. Keep these things in mind when storing toothbrushes to protect everyone in your household and to reduce the risks of cross-contamination.
- Store toothbrushes so they do not touch each other or anything else. This practice significantly reduces risks of spreading bacterial infections, viruses and other illnesses from one family member to the next.
- Allow toothbrushes to dry completely between uses. Doing so also reduces opportunities for fungus and other unpleasant things to accumulate on your toothbrush.
- Allow your toothbrush to air dry when possible. Covering a toothbrush before it’s dry can lead to bacteria growth. However, keep your toothbrush in a case when travelling to protect the bristles.
Simple steps like these can prevent unnecessary exposure to bacteria and viruses from your toothbrush and will help ensure everyone in your family stays healthy between the times when they replace existing toothbrushes.
Note the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests you should not use a microwave, dishwasher or ultraviolet light devices as methods for disinfecting toothbrushes, as they may damage the toothbrush.
Twice daily brushing of your teeth is the foundation upon which you can build good oral health. However, you must make sure your toothbrush isn’t contributing to other potential health problems by failing to change it routinely and as recommended by dental health experts. This guide offers outstanding ideas for ways to repurpose your old toothbrush, so you can extend its life and usefulness beyond that of taking care of your oral health.
Request an Appointment at Dental Choice
If you’re due for a dental exam or teeth cleaning, give us a call here at Dental Choice in Calgary-Airdrie at 403-265-2527 or in Edmonton at 780-444-8936, or complete our online form to request an appointment.
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