Brushing your teeth is part of your everyday routine. You brush at least twice a day. Everyone that brushes know they are doing it to become cleaner individuals. But do you think that brushing your teeth can be a way you’re making yourself sick? Toothbrushes can become contaminated with microbes of bacteria and viruses. This is especially true if you’ve become sick and are recovering or if someone in your family is sick. Bacteria can live on surfaces for weeks after being exposed and that includes toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes. The bacteria or microbes on your toothbrush can be put in your mouth again and reintroduce you to the bacteria. The answer to keeping these bacteria from entering your mouth is not to discontinue brushing your teeth but to keeping your toothbrush clean.
How do you reduce bacteria on your toothbrush?
Here are some suggestions on maintaining a bacteria, virus-free toothbrush. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), washing your toothbrush and keeping your sink area clean will limit the spread of the disease.
- 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.
Toothbrushes do not necessarily need to be sterilized. Detergents and cleaners can reduce the effectiveness of a toothbrush and doesn’t rid of bacteria as well. The best way of reducing bacteria from spreading and causing illness is to maintain a clean environment on and around the toothbrush and to replace toothbrushes after illness and every three to four months or when it shows signs of wear.