I know you are supposed to switch out a toothbrush every three months, but what about after a child’s illness? My son has the flu. It’s a fairly new toothbrush. Should I toss it and get a new one?
It sounds like you’re a loving and attentive mother. You’ve been fed false information by toothbrush companies. All that tosh about changing out toothbrushes every three months is not necessary. It was invented by the toothbrush companies to help move their inventory. Sadly, even some dental blogs are still pushing this false information.
In reality, if you take your son to a pediatric dentist regularly, you may never have to purchase him a toothbrush again. They’re likely to gift him a new toothbrush after each visit. As long as he keeps up with it and the bristles remain in good condition. You should be fine. If for some reason, he takes it out to design a race track in the dirt or something, you may want to disinfect it.
How to Disinfect a Toothbrush
It’s quite simple to sterilize a toothbrush. Pour some chlorine bleach into a small bowl or cup and cover the head of the toothbrush. Chlorine bleach does an excellent job destroying bacteria. Just let the toothbrush sit about 5 minutes in the bleach and then thoroughly rinse off the head of the brush. There’s no funky taste and no danger to you or your son. In fact, it will be more germ-free than when you first took it brand new out of the packaging.
Regarding your question about illnesses. Once your child has the strain of illness they cannot reinfect themselves with it, so there is no reason to replace their toothbrush. I know many pediatricians used to recommend replacing toothbrushes during strep, but a recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics has debunked that. Even with strep, they can keep using their toothbrush. Of course, if you’re worried, you could always sterilize it following the method listed above.
I hope this puts your mind at ease.
This blog is brought to you by Huntsville Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Steve Murphree.