Ever wonder what is lurking on your toothbrush? You aren’t going to like the answer! Your toothbrush contains a multitude of bacteria and can be home to over 100 million bacteria. Including more serious bacteria such as E. coli and staphylococci or “staph,” that can cause skin infections. No need to worry though, because your mouth is constantly full of bacteria and that will always be the case. As long as the balance of bacteria doesn’t become unhealthy, there is no cause for panic. We will look at some ways in this article to minimize that bacteria though. Keep in mind that plaque, the substance you’re removing from your teeth, is bacteria. Therefore, each time you brush your teeth, you are placing bacteria on your toothbrush.
Is Your Toothbrush Making You Sick?
More than likely, no. Despite the number of bacteria living in your mouth, it is highly unlikely that you would catch an infection simply from brushing your teeth. Luckily, the human body can typically fight off bacteria. There isn’t any research linking that bacteria from a toothbrush will cause one to become sick. However, you should still do your part in protecting your mouth from as much bacteria as possible. There are a few common sense items that can help you keep your toothbrush as clean as possible.
Storing your Toothbrush
- Keep it away from the toilet – Each time you flush the toilet, a spray of bacteria shoots out and into the air. You don’t want the toilet spray anywhere near your unprotected brush
- Keep it rinsed – Each time you use your brush, rinse it thoroughly under running water.
- Keep it dry – Avoid using a protective case over the head of your brush. That will prevent the brush from drying and moisture breeds bacteria.
- Keep it upright – Stow your toothbrush in a holder, avoid lying it down.
- Don’t share – Don’t even think of sharing your toothbrush with anybody. Don’t even stow your toothbrush in a holder with other people’s brushes. Each time the touch, there is a high chance they will swap germs.
The Lowdown on Toothbrush Sanitizers
Many products claim to thoroughly clean your toothbrush. Many products say they kill bacteria with heat or ultraviolet light, germ killing sprays, or rinses. Others even pledge to have built-in antibacterial bristles. While there is evidence that at least a few of these products do kill germs effectively, there’s no real proof that in using them you will be preventing illness. So if you do choose to give one of these products a try, at lease be sure that it is FDA approved.
At best, these products will kill 99.9% of the germs on your toothbrush. Remember that our mouths contain approximately a million bacteria to start. Therefore, you will still have about 1,000 leftover when you have completed sanitizing.
Replacing your Toothbrush
Limiting the bacteria on your brush all boils down to the frequency in which you replace it. The American Dental Association suggests changing out your toothbrush roughly every three to four months. However, if you have been sick, the bristles are frayed, or if your immune system is weak, change it out even more often. If you use an electric toothbrush, follow this timeline for changing out the head as well.
Each time you skip a brushing or flossing, keep in mind the number of bacteria that are hanging out in your mouth and the risks they pose. That bacteria is what causes gum disease, decay, and bad breath. It is the root of our dental problems so be sure to take your dental care seriously with adequate brushing, flossing, and rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash.