Our toothbrush is something most of us probably don’t pay much attention to. We use it (hopefully) twice a day while mindlessly brushing, daydreaming or worrying about all the things we need to get done for the day. Perhaps after reading this, you will give your brush a few seconds consideration before sticking it in your mouth.
By nature, our toothbrushes are a potential breeding ground for bacteria, due to their location in our bathrooms. The dark, damp environment and close proximity to the toilet (ew!) promote bacterial colonization and contamination. In fact, it is estimated that at any given time, 10 billion microbes are living on our brush! Below are some tips to help keep that number in check and ensure a safe and sanitary brushing experience:
- Change your brush every 3-4 months. This is especially important for electric brushes, as their effectiveness dramatically decreases when bristles are worn out
- Change your brush immediately after illness to avoid reinfection
- Allow your brush to airdry in an upright position, bristles upward. If you use a toothbrush holder, make sure to clean and disinfect it regularly
- Do not use bristle covers. They inhibit drying and promote bacterial growth
- Do not microwave your brush to disinfect it. It will not work, and can actually breakdown the plastic bristles
- Keep your brush as far away from the toilet as possible, and close the toilet lid before brushing. Flushing creates aerosols that contain harmful bacteria, which can land right on your brush!
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