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.
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)