It’s estimated that the average toothbrush harbors as many as 1.2 million bacteria and viruses. Perhaps even more concerning is the type of “bugs” researchers have found, including the cold and flu virus, E. Coli, staphylococci (aka staph), the strep virus and more. And while the thought of exposing yourself to so many germs every time you brush your teeth isn’t exactly appealing, it usually doesn’t cause any health problems. However, as any dentist will tell you, it’s still worth it to take a few extra steps to keep your toothbrush clean, fresh, and sanitized. Keep reading below to find out why and how to clean your toothbrush!
Why Is It Important To Clean Your Toothbrush?
While everyone’s mouth naturally harbors a variety of bacteria, the goal is to minimize the number of germs you expose yourself to each day. Particularly when you’re fighting off a cold, flu, or other illness, you’re essentially coating your toothbrush bristles with those germs each time you brush. Fortunately, people with relatively healthy immune systems don’t usually get re-infected, but they could be more susceptible to additional illnesses from the many other germs on their brush.
And since many families store their toothbrushes together in one area, it’s also possible to spread the cold or flu to another member. Just like washing your hands reduces the spread of germs in your household, cleaning your toothbrush can also keep your family healthier.
How Should You Clean Your Toothbrush?
Here are some easy tips you can use on a daily basis to keep your toothbrush cleaner:
- Store your toothbrush away from the toilet. This prevents the germs that circulate in the air each time it’s flushed from settling on your toothbrush.
- It might seem like a toothbrush cover would protect your toothbrush bristles, but it actually traps moisture and bacteria. Make sure your toothbrush is exposed to open air between uses to allow the bristles to thoroughly dry.
- Instead of laying your toothbrush on its side when you’re done with it, store it upright so that any moisture can better drain.
- To clean your toothbrush, you can swirl it around in a small cup of antiseptic mouthwash or hydrogen peroxide for 30 seconds, or soak it in denture cleaner or vinegar for 15 minutes once a week. Don’t put it in the dishwasher or microwave because the plastic may melt or warp.
- Also, don’t forget that dentists recommend replacing your toothbrush every 3-4 months or sooner if you’ve been sick or the bristles become frayed.
Your toothbrush comes into close contact with your teeth, tongue and gums twice a day. By taking simple steps to keep it clean and sanitized, you’ll have a healthier, happier mouth!
About the Author
Dr. Megan Shelton is a family dentist and graduate of the University of Louisville School of Dentistry. She and her team are committed to helping their patients improve every aspect of their oral health and always provide tips for maintaining great oral hygiene at home. If you’d like to know more about how to clean your toothbrush or have any questions, she can be reached via her website.