Is your toothbrush full of germs? It is a common concern for some patients. Whether you’ve been using a toothbrush for a couple days or a couple weeks, this is certainly a concern worth addressing. Throughout the course of this article we’ll look at the science behind germs on toothbrushes and discuss whether or not it is really worth worrying about. Better yet, we’ll talk about how to keep your toothbrush as clean as possible. So let’s take a closer look at how germs may interact with your toothbrush.
Let’s get right down to it, the CDC claims that no adverse health effects come from using a toothbrush, and this includes germs that are found on it. This means that even if you’re ending the lifecycle of your current toothbrush, germs or other contaminants are not going to effect your health, be it oral or otherwise. What this doesn’t mean is that you can use your toothbrush forever. Remember the bristles will wear down on the brush (either manual or electric head) and need to be replaced every three months or so. If you continue to use an old toothbrush past its prime, it will not clean your teeth effectively which could lead to more plaque and tartar buildup. (Read more about how to Fight Plaque And Tartar Buildup).
This all said, there are still several practices and situations to avoid when caring for your toothbrush. Let’s talk about them before we go any further.
First and foremost, you should never share your toothbrush with anyone else. The act of brushing can cause blood, germs and other contaminants to stick to your brush. You don’t want to transmit these contaminants to anyone else by sharing brushes. The same goes for children, who are especially prone to sharing toothbrushes if they aren’t supervised. It is also best if toothbrushes don’t touch when stored, which doesn’t match up with the “toothbrush jar” storage method most of us use. Placing everyone’s toothbrush in a jar can easily lead to them touching, and you may need to rethink how you store more than one or two brushes.
If you’re sharing toothpaste tubes with several people or strangers, the CDC recommends that you first place a proper size amount of toothpaste on wax paper and then deliver it to a brush. If everyone uses the same tube without first transferring the toothpaste to a clean surface, then contamination can occur at the mouth of the toothpaste tube. When it comes to family use, generally sharing the same tube of toothpaste is ok, with a few exceptions. If a family member is sick, it is best to deliver toothpaste to their brush in the manner described above. Also if a family member has immunodeficient issues, they should use their own toothpaste tube. This all said, it’s not a bad idea for family members to all use different types of toothpaste because they will often have different oral health needs.
Cleaning a toothbrush has been a topic of hot conjecture for many years, but in reality it’s really quite simple. If you think using UV rays, disinfectant washes, dishwashers or even just mouthwash will help clean and sanitize your brush, you are wrong. All these methods provide no additional benefit to your toothbrush or oral health, and some of them can even transmit more germs rather than prevent them. No the best and only way you should clean your toothbrush is to rinse it thoroughly with water after you are finished brushing. It should be stored upright and not covered in any way. This allows the toothbrush to dry out and can inhibit additional germ growth. If you cover your brush with a toothbrush cover, it will actually encourage germ growth since they need moisture to thrive. So it’s actually quite easy to keep your toothbrush clean!
So there you have it. You don’t have to worry about germs on your toothbrush as long as you clean and store it properly and replace it every three months or so. Have more questions about brushing habits or just ready to schedule an appointment with a top rated Lakewood, CO dentist? Contact Grace & Leedy Family Dentistry today to get started.