Many studies conducted measuring the cleanliness of toothbrushes conclude that all of the presently available types of toothbrushes have the ability to be infected by a wide range of microorganisms, including viruses which can cause sicknesses from the common cold to even pneumonia.
Every time you place your toothbrush in your mouth, it becomes contaminated with oral microbial organisms. Viruses and bacteria from an infected person’s mouth can live for weeks on toothbrushes and can continue to cause illness. Also, normal healthy oral bacteria can cause infection if it enters your gum tissue through an injured gum or oral ulcer. Plus, your toothbrush may introduce harmful organisms into your mouth right out of the box since there is no requirement for them to be sold in sterile packaging!
How To Keep Your Toothbrush “Clean”
You may think your are “cleaning” your toothbrush every time you brush because you wet it, but that is not enough to really keep your toothbrush from spreading germs. The following are tips for preventing your toothbrush from making you sick:
- – Wash your brush after every use by rinsing it thoroughly with tap water. There are a lot of places on a toothbrush that can harbor germs – not just in the bristles. If you have a cold or virus you can also soak it in antibacterial mouthwash between brushings. Running it through the dishwasher can really clean your brush or there are many toothbrush sanitizers available for purchase.
- – Store your toothbrush properly. The lack of air can foster bacteria, so don’t keep your toothbrush in a dark, unventilated area such as in a drawer or cabinet. Do place your brush upright in a container that allows it to dry out completely. You can also invest in a toothbrush cover that lets air circulate and prevents mold.
- – Know when to get rid of your toothbrush. Replace your toothbrush about every two months, or when it shows signs of wear. Throw away a brush you or anyone in your home used while sick. Treat electric or power models the same way you handle a regular toothbrush and toss the brush attachment after an illness or when the bristles begin to show signs of wear.
- – NEVER share a toothbrush. Sharing your toothbrush can transfer saliva and bacteria, including the kind that cause tooth decay, so don’t even think about it!
We all face a great number of bacteria, viruses and ways to contract sicknesses every day. Get in the habit of caring for your toothbrush properly and it will not make you sick.
Dr. Finlay emphasizes the benefits of routine dental care– this provides us the opportunity to spot developing dental problems early on and educate our patients on good at home oral hygiene practices. If you have questions or concerns about your oral health and how best to maintain it, ask us at your next visit to our Arnold dentist office.