The human mouth is chock full of bacteria, with somewhere between 100 and 200 species. Over 1,000 reside on each well-cleaned tooth and over a million on the ones in a dirty mouth. Thank goodness we have toothbrushes to clean them up. Unfortunately, the toothbrush had been proven to become a health hazard. Between reintroducing bacteria to the mouth if the brush isn’t replaced often and environmental infection, it’s super important to keep your toothbrush clean to maintain your overall health.
Oral Bacteria on Toothbrushes
As mentioned above, the toothbrush has been proven to harbor germs and plaque that can re-infect the mouth or get down into the vessel-filled gums and into the circulatory system. Gum disease, strokes, and periodontal disease can all result from this. One way to avoid this is to take the American Dental Association’s advice and replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months.
If you contract a cold, flu, or other contagion, replace it immediately to remove the possibility of reinfection. Throw away the toothbrush and get a new one if the bristles begin to turn outward or fray, a sure sign that they’re not cleaning your mouth like they should and probably spreading around old gunk. Rinsing after each brushing session can remove any excess toothpaste and bacteria, and keeping family brushes separate or avoiding overcrowded brush holders can also eliminate germ sharing.
Keeping Toothbrushes Clean
Just because you unwrapped a new toothbrush doesn’t mean it’s clean. The packagings most companies market our toothbrushes in aren’t sterile, and the law doesn’t require that they be. Cleaning a new toothbrush or one that’s still in decent shape is a simple task. Allowing it to soak in an antibacterial solution for 10 minutes and then air drying to prevent mold is the best way to ensure you aren’t cross contaminating your mouth. These solutions can be mouthwash with alcohol, a mixture of bleach and water in a 1:3 ratio, or pure vinegar.
Fecal Matter Contamination on Toothbrushes
Toilet’s flushing function have been proven over and over to be a health hazard, as the splashing gets unhealthy droplets into the air and splatters at least six feet its location. In most U.S. homes, this means the entire bathroom is at risk. Toothbrushes in cups or containers on countertops are often within this fecal matter radius. The National Center for Biotechnology Information warns that your toothbrush can become infested with bacteria and viruses, and transition them to your mouth. To avoid this major health concern, place toothbrushes in a cup within a medicine cabinet. Closing the toilet lid can help, but doesn’t completely stop the airborne contaminants from contaminating the bathroom and its surfaces.
Other Tips to Keep Your Toothbrush and your Mouth Clean
Don’t share toothbrushes. This may seem logical, but in some studies couples have done so. This is an obvious disregard for swapping oral bacteria as well as viruses and germs that could prolong illnesses and infect otherwise healthy people.
Cover toothbrushes when you travel. When you’re not at home, a toothbrush traveler can keep the debris, germs, and dirt in the bottoms of bags or purses from getting into the bristles and eventually your mouth.
Allow your toothbrush to breathe at home. As mentioned above, keeping the toothbrush covered up after use will allow moisture to further the growth of bacteria and introduce it to your mouth. Many electronic toothbrush kits come with brush head covers complete with holes to allow air to circulate. Something of this nature on a regular toothbrush could also work as long as its allowing the bristles to dry between uses.
When in doubt, toss it out! If you’re not sure whether your toothbrush has been exposed to fecal or environmental bacteria don’t use it. Instead, get a new head or new brush entirely. Your mouth will be healthier and your body better for it.