You follow all the directions about good oral hygiene. At least twice a day you brush your teeth with your toothbrush and toothpaste. When you finish, you set your toothbrush in your medicine cabinet or a toothbrush cup on your counter, thinking nothing of it. But there is a lingering danger hiding in your toothbrush that could be contributing to poor health. Because of this, Soundview Family Dental explains how and why it is important to disinfect a toothbrush and treat it with regular daily care.
Toothbrushes can harbor harmful bacteria, including fecal matter and flu virus.
Disinfect your toothbrush regularly with hot water, mouthwash, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, or denture cleansers.
Do not store your toothbrush near the toilet and avoid storing toothbrushes together.
Replace your toothbrush every three months or when bristles are damaged, and allow it to air dry between uses.
If you or a family member is sick, replace the toothbrush after recovery and keep your toothbrush holder clean.
Why do you need to disinfect your toothbrush?
Your toothbrush may look innocent enough sitting in a toothbrush cup on your bathroom counter, but the truth is it may harbor dangerous bacteria. Despite how clean you keep your bathroom chances are your toothbrush is not as clean as you think. A 2011 study showed that toothbrush contamination by various microorganisms, such as Streptococcus mutans and Staphlococcus aureus, appear in all toothbrushes tested. And if you have a toilet that is not in a separate room from your sink, chances are fecal matter and Escherichia coli are in your toothbrush too. In addition, toothbrushes can also harbor the flu virus. When you place your toothbrush into your mouth, these microorganisms can make you sick.
How to disinfect a toothbrush?
The good news is that you do not have to live with a contaminated toothbrush. Regular disinfecting methods can help keep your toothbrush microorganism-free and ready to clean your teeth. There are a variety of different disinfecting methods that work, but the first step always begins with hot water. Before and after each use, run your toothbrush under hot water. Hot water helps to soften the bristles and release food particles and trapped toothpaste. Rubbing your thumb across the bristles while under the water will also help remove these particles. After rinsing your toothbrush, try one of these disinfecting methods.
One of the easiest ways to disinfect your toothbrush is the same way you disinfect and kill germs in your mouth. Antibacterial mouthwash not only kills the germs in your mouth but can help keep your toothbrush clean too. Simply fill a small cup with mouthwash and stir the toothbrush bristles in the solution for 30 seconds.
Hydrogen peroxide is another great way to disinfect your toothbrush and keep it clean until your next use. Simply fill a small glass with 3% hydrogen peroxide and store your toothbrush, bristles down, in the solution. When you are ready to brush your teeth, rinse the toothbrush under hot water before use. If you choose this method, you must replace the solution every day for full effectiveness.
Baking soda is a natural method to disinfect your toothbrush. Simply mix two teaspoons of baking soda into one cup of water and mix thoroughly. Soak your toothbrush in the solution for 15 minutes and then allow your toothbrush to air dry.
While designed for denture cleaning, effervescent denture tablets are a great way to clean your toothbrush. The foaming action of these tablets helps loosen particles trapped in the toothbrush while the antibacterial properties kill the germs.
What not to do
While regular cleaning and disinfecting your toothbrush will help keep the germs away, there are some other things you should avoid when it comes to proper toothbrush care. These include:
- Do NOT store your toothbrush near the toilet. If your toilet is near the bathroom sink, keep your toothbrush in a medicine cabinet. If this is not possible, get into the habit of flushing the toilet AFTER putting the toilet seat down to reduce bacterial transmission.
- Do NOT store toothbrushes together. While many families opt to have a shared toothbrush holder, this increases the risk of bacterial spread between toothbrushes.
Regular daily care of your toothbrush
In addition to these disinfecting techniques, there are other steps to take to reduce bacterial buildup on your toothbrush. Following these tips will help ensure your toothbrush is safe and ready to clean your teeth.
- Replace your toothbrush at the first sign of damaged or bent bristles. We also recommend regular replacement every three months, even if your toothbrush looks brand new.
- Allow your toothbrush to air dry between use. Give your toothbrush a good shake when you finish brushing your teeth.
- If you store your toothbrush with a cover, be sure that it allows your toothbrush to dry completely between use. A wet toothbrush can harbor more bacteria. In addition, be sure to wash the toothbrush cover with soap and water on a regular basis.
- Keep your toothbrush holder clean. If you simply set your toothbrush into a holder on the countertop, be sure to frequently clean and disinfect the holder with soap and water.
- If you or another family member gets a cold, flu, or other contagious condition, throw the toothbrush away after you recover and replace it with a new toothbrush.
Regular toothbrush care will ensure that this powerful oral hygiene tool is in optimal condition to help you battle plaque and keep your gums and teeth healthy. If you have any questions about your toothbrush, which disinfecting method is best for you, questions about teeth cleaning or general dentistry, Dr. Kitts and the staff of Soundview Family Dental are here to help. Contact us online or call the office today at (425) 563-6360. Your oral health is our priority, and we are here to help answer any of your questions.