What could be on your toothbrush might surprise you; Staphylococci, coliforms, pseudomonads, yeasts, intestinal bacteria and yes, even fecal germs could be hiding in those bristles. Appropriate toothbrush storage and care are important to achieving personal oral hygiene. Most toothbrushes are stored in bathrooms which can lead to them being exposed to many different germs. Although it’s important to brush your teeth at least twice a day, it is equally important to take proper care of your toothbrush. Below, we’ve put together our best tips.
Can bacteria from my toilet really reach my toothbrush?
The short answer is ‘yes.’ Enteric bacteria, which occurs mostly in the intestines, can transfer to toothbrushes and thus into your mouth. This may occur through inadequate hand washing or due to microscopic droplets released from the toilet during flushing (especially if the toilet isn’t enclosed). Always be sure to put the lid down on the toilet seat before you flush.
What is the proper way to clean my toothbrush to help remove germs?
You should thoroughly rinse toothbrushes with tap water after brushing to remove any remaining toothpaste and debris. Additionally, soaking toothbrushes in an antibacterial mouth rinse has been shown to decrease the level of bacteria that grow on toothbrushes.
How should I store my toothbrush to avoid germ and bacteria buildup?
The American Dental Association recommends that you don’t store your toothbrush in a closed container or cover your toothbrush, as a damp environment is more conducive to the growth of microorganisms. Also, storing toothbrushes in an upright position and allowing them to air dry until the next use is recommended. If more than one brush is stored in an area, keep the toothbrushes separate to avoid cross-contamination.
What is the proper toothbrush protocol when I’m sick?
Any illness that can be transmitted through body fluids should warrant separation of the toothbrush of the infected individual and replacement of the toothbrush after the illness.
How often should my toothbrush be replaced?
Toothbrushes should be replaced at least every three to four months or when bristles become frayed and worn, whichever comes first.
Use antimicrobial mouth rinse prior to brushing. This can decrease the bacterial load in your mouth considerably and may reduce the number of microorganisms that end up on the toothbrush after brushing.
Engage in routine dental care. Routine dental care, including visiting the dentist every six months can reduce the overall bacterial load in your mouth. It is especially important for those with gum disease as the oral bacteria present in their mouths can enter the bloodstream when they eat, chew gum and brush their teeth.
Wash your hands. Hand washing after using the restroom and prior to using your toothbrush can reduce the spread of unwanted bacteria on your toothbrush (or elsewhere).
Do not share toothbrushes. This seems like a no brainer, but a large proportion of spouses admit to sharing toothbrushes. That means bacteria on those toothbrushes are being shared, including the ones that cause dental decay and periodontal disease — the two major dental diseases in adults.