Is Your Toothbrush Making you Sick?

You may have heard that your toothbrush can contain germs that can make you sick.  The fact is that there is more bacteria in your mouth than anywhere else in your body, so some of these germs can get on your toothbrush when you brush your teeth.  Also, since most people store their toothbrush in the bathroom, which is a warm, moist environment, the likelihood of more airborne bacteria increases.

Toothbrush

So are there some simple methods you can do to protect your toothbrush from bacteria and yourself from being sick?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a simple regimen for toothbrush care is sufficient to remove most microorganisms from your toothbrush and limit the spread of disease. Here are some common-sense steps you can take:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before and after brushing or flossing.
  • After brushing, rinse your toothbrush with warm water and store it upright to air-dry.
  • Don’t cover your toothbrush or place it in a closed container until it is completely dry. A moist environment can foster bacterial growth.
  • Use a completely dry toothbrush. Everyone should have two toothbrushes to give ample time (24 hours) for it to dry out in between uses.
  • Don’t share a toothbrush with anyone. Also, don’t store toothbrushes in a way that might cause them to touch and spread germs.
  • Replace your toothbrush every three or four months. Dentists recommend this practice not as prevention against contamination, but because toothbrushes wear out and become less effective at cleaning teeth.
  • Always replace your toothbrush after a cold or other illness to prevent contamination.
  • If you or someone else in your family is sick, that person should use a different tube of toothpaste (travel size, for example), to prevent spreading germs to other toothbrushes.

(Courtesy of the American Dental Association)

 

Osteoporosis and your Teeth

When you think of Osteoporosis you probably think of your bones and not your teeth, but your teeth can be one of the first places that show you might be in danger of developing Osteoporosis.  If you’re a woman, particularly those over the age of 50, you’re more likely to show signs of the disease.

Since Osteoporosis weakens bones by reducing their density, symptoms of tooth loss or gum disease could indicate early stages of Osteoporosis. Your dentist may be able to detect the beginnings of the disease based on your oral symptoms, the results of your x-rays, examinations, as well as your medical history. This is why you should see your dentist regularly, because preventive care is essential to maintaining your oral as well as your overall health.

Signs of Osteoporosis

According to the Academy of General Dentistry, there are several signs that alert dentists to the possibility of osteoporosis:

  • Bone Loss in the Jaw:  This may be a sign of bone loss in other parts of the body.
  • Tooth Loss:  Studies suggest that women with low bone mineral density tend to lose more teeth.
  • Ill-fitting Dentures in Post-Menopausal Women: Studies show that post-menopausal women with osteoporosis need new dentures three times more often after age 50 than women without osteoporosis. Bone loss may become so severe that it may be impossible to create functional dentures. Without the aid of dentures to chew many types of food, older patients may suffer severe nutritional deficiencies.

If your dentist suspects you have osteoporosis, they can refer you to a physician for medical assessment and subsequent treatment. In addition to scheduling regular dentist visits, you can help prevent osteoporosis by:

  • Getting enough calcium each day, through diet or supplements (women/1,200mg; men/800mg; anyone over age 65/1,500mg)
  • Adding vitamin D to your diet
  • Exercising
  • Quitting smoking
  • Decreasing caffeine and alcohol intake

If you are worried about bone loss or think you may be suffering from Osteoporosis, call our office at Brogdon Dental for an assessment. We’re concerned about your overall health.