Early forms of the toothbrush are mentioned as early as 3000 BC when Egyptians and Babylonians used “chew sticks”, or thin twigs that were rubbed against the teeth. The modern bristle toothbrush was invented in China in 1498. Course boar hair was attached to bamboo or bone. In 1938, the company, Dupont introduced the nylon bristle, which is still widely used today.
Patients always wonder what type of toothbrush to select. There are a few things to consider. Quite literally, how big is one’s mouth? A smaller mouth requires a smaller headed toothbrush; a wider mouth can accommodate a larger toothbrush. There are many options for sizes and shapes, so before one goes shopping, take a look in the mirror and get an idea of the shape of your jaw.
For children, starting with a small toothbrush and moving up in size is normal as they grow. Some toothbrushes are sold with age recommendations that can be helpful when it comes to kids. Soft bristle toothbrushes are often preferred as they are kinder to the gum tissue. However, if a patient is in braces, then one can consider the specialized braces brushes that are sold.
Electric toothbrushes can also be a good idea especially if your kids need a little extra incentive on good brushing habits. There are some less expensive battery-operated brands that light up or play music and have built in timers to make brushing fun. Letting your child pick their favorite character or color for their toothbrush can also go a long way to making brushing easier at home.
If your child has been sick, it is a good idea to replace their toothbrush. Since toothbrushes are wet when used and take time to air dry, bacteria can live on them quite easily. It is important to rinse out toothbrushes well after use and store then upright so that the bristles can air dry until the next use. A good rule of thumb is to replace your brush about every three months.
Kids tend to chew on their toothbrushes and if you see too much splaying of the bristles, it’s time to get another brush. A good idea is to give young kids one brush they can play with and chew on, and store another brush for the actual brushing. This will save on replacements.
As always, personalized advice from your dentist is best, but hopefully, the above tips made toothbrush selection a bit easier for you and your kids. Happy brushing!
Dr. Jamie Sahouria is Rohnert Park's only full time, board certified pediatric dentist. She works at 1303 Medical Center Drive, where she and partner doctors provide dental care and braces for kids and adults. Dr. Jamie is a Rohnert Park native and is a proud graduate of The Ranch. She can be reached via her website at www.BrushFlosssSmile.com