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October Is National Dental Hygiene Month


Let’s face it: Taking care of your teeth can be an investment. Toothpaste, floss, mouthwash, a fancy ultrasonic brush, a water flosser, spare brush heads - it adds up. Naturally, you want to protect that investment, but more than that, you want to know that your products work correctly when you need them, and that they don’t get contaminated with germs and bacteria simply by sitting out on your bathroom counter. So, how do you store your oral care products so they stay safe and effective for as long as possible?

In honor of National Dental Hygiene Month this October, we decided to be meta and share some useful tips about the best way to ensure the hygiene of your oral hygiene products.


A common question people ask is, "Does my toothpaste expire?" The short answer is yes. Though the FDA does not require toothpaste manufacturers to state an expiration date, toothpaste has active ingredients that begin to become unstable and break down over time.

Fluoride is said to break down after about two years. While it's not dangerous, it does make the toothpaste itself less effective, so if your toothpaste does have an expiration date on it, make sure you pay attention to it.

As far as storing your toothpaste goes, a little common sense goes a long way. Do make sure to store your toothpaste with the cap on, and don’t leave it out in the sun or in a very hot place, as it can start to separate. If you’re traveling, be sure to protect your travel paste in a toothpaste container – but make sure the container is clean and dry so bacteria don’t form on your toothpaste tube while in storage.


The poor toothbrush. It has such a difficult job. Between getting all that nasty plaque off our teeth and having a pretty much lose-lose situation regarding storage, it can’t seem to catch a break. Here’s the problem: When you leave your toothbrush out on the counter in the bathroom, the bristles are susceptible to picking up all kinds of gross toilet bacteria and other germs. But stashing it in a medicine cabinet or toothbrush cover is just as dangerous, because that can just as easily create ideal conditions for bacteria to thrive.

The best way to store your brush is to rinse it well after brushing, and then store it upright in the open air so it has time to dry. Try to keep it as far away from your toilet as possible and remember to toss the whole brush or brush head every three to four months.


Whether you use waxed or unwaxed, flavored or unflavored, dental floss storage is easy. Always store your floss in its container with the lid shut to keep out germs. Never, ever re-use a used piece of dental floss.

Waterpik or Water Flosser

It’s fine to leave your water flosser out on the bathroom counter, but be mindful of how long you keep the reservoir filled. Standing water can be an invitation for bacteria and germs to grow. If you store your flosser with the reservoir already filled, be sure to wash it out at least once a week to kill any bacteria that may be growing inside. If you store it empty, don’t leave the lid on the top - allow it to air dry so bacteria don’t get a chance to grow.


Mouthwash has no real storage requirements other than making sure you keep the cap secured tightly. It may be beneficial to keep it out of direct sunlight and to store it in a cool, dry place, but the most important thing you should remember about storing your mouthwash is to keep it out of reach of young children. Those pretty colored fluids can easily attract curious, thirsty kiddos who may confuse it with sports drink or juice.

To be safe, you should always keep poison control numbers handy for this kind of emergency, or if you think your child may have consumed mouthwash, you can also call 911.

For questions, concerns or to schedule an appointment, give Dr. Simpson’s office a call at 910-550-3959.

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Michele Simpson DDS

Wilmington Dental Office

3317 Masonboro Loop Rd • Suite 140 • Wilmington, NC 28409

(910) 550-3959

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3317 Masonboro Loop Rd
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Wilmington, NC 28409