Your toothbrush helps freshen up your mouth in the morning and get all the food, germs, and grime off of your teeth after a long day. But have you ever thought about what’s going on with your toothbrush in between these times? It cleans your teeth, but is the toothbrush itself clean? Research shows that toothbrushes can hold microorganisms and bacteria that could result in illness if allowed to build up. Your mouth is full of bacteria, which gets transferred to your toothbrush. If your toothbrush isn’t properly cleaned, you could end up putting growing colonies of bacteria right back into your mouth when you brush the next time, making that brush ineffective or even dangerous.
There are a few things you can do to ensure that your toothbrush stays clean and ready to use every morning and night. Below, Flintlock Dental will look at ways you can store and clean your toothbrush to keep it in good shape between uses.
Do Not Share Your Toothbrush
It might seem harmless to share a toothbrush, but it’s not worth the risk. Sharing your toothbrush could result in the exchange of harmful microorganisms between the two users, putting them both at risk for illness. Sharing a toothbrush is particularly dangerous for someone with a compromised immune system or who is prone to recurring illnesses. It's also a bad idea to share a toothbrush with someone who tends to get cold sores. Your toothbrush should be yours and yours alone.
Thoroughly Clean Your Toothbrush
Just as your teeth need to be cleaned twice a day, the same goes for your toothbrush. Make sure you rinse your toothbrush off well with hot water after each use. Clear the toothbrush of any leftover toothpaste and debris that may be left on there. Once your toothbrush is clean, store the brush in an upright position and let it air dry. If multiple toothbrushes are stored together in the same location, make sure that the brushes don’t touch, to avoid any cross-contamination.
If you want to further sanitize your toothbrush, you can soak the brush for a few minutes in boiling water or rubbing alcohol. If you use the latter, rinse off the bristles before you use it.
Do Not Cover Your Toothbrush
You may be tempted to get one of those toothbrush covers to keep your brush safe from surrounding bathroom contamination, but this is a bad idea. Closing up your wet toothbrush in a small container allows for even more contaminants and bacteria to grow. Many harmful microorganisms love dark, wet environments for optimal growth. Always let your toothbrush air dry after cleaning, and leave it exposed until your next use.
If you're concerned about particles from your toilet getting into the air and onto your toothbrush, there are a few things you van do. Put the seat down every time you flush to reduce the spray. Put your toothbrushes behind a closed door from the toilet, such as a cabinet (as long as it has enough space for a good air dry). You can also keep your toothbrush at a sink that's not near a toilet, such as the kitchen, if you don't mind having it be more visible to guests!
Replace Your Toothbrush Every 3 - 4 Months
The bristles on your toothbrush will become frayed, and the overall effectiveness of your toothbrush will lessen over time. How quickly the bristles wear down will depend on how often and hard each person brushes. Make sure to check your toothbrush frequently to see if it’s time to replace your toothbrush. Children’s toothbrushes often need replaced more often than adult ones, so make a point to check their brushes often.
You also should replace your toothbrush after you get over an illness. This will make sure you aren’t leaving any trace of the germs on your toothbrush to re-infect yourself later.
Taking proper care of your toothbrush by cleaning it after every use, letting it dry in the open air, and replacing it when needed can help decrease the risk of some illnesses. Just like your teeth need to be cleaned regularly, so does your toothbrush. If you want more info from Flintlock Dental, check out our other blogs, such as this one that goes over tips to get your kids to brush their teeth!