What’s Living on Your Toothbrush?

Did you know that there can be as much bacteria in an unbrushed mouth as there are on a bathroom floor? Toothbrushes can be a breeding grounds for all kinds of germs and yet it is something we use in our mouths every day!

They can contain often harmful viruses and pathogens; and because most infections and sicknesses are transferred through the mouth, why wouldn’t you want to have it as clean as possible?

While there is no way to have a completely bacteria-free brush, there are precautions you can take to making sure nothing is being spread around, especially if you have a big family where sickness can easily bounce from person to person.

There are more than just sanitary reasons in play. When the bristles on a toothbrush begin to bend outward, it is rendered by dental professionals to be ineffective. This is prone to happen after a few months of frequent use. As the bristles lose their suppleness, getting plaque and other bacteria off of teeth becomes more difficult. You want firm, flexible, and straight so that the toothbrush can do its job properly.

Here are some habits you and your family can develop to ensure happy, healthy, and clean mouths for all.

  1.   Replace your toothbrush at least every 3 months

A great way to remember to do this is to pick up a variety pack every few months on one of your big grocery shops. If this seems too expensive for a big household, Dollar Stores all over the U.S. have packs of two or more for sale. This means if you have 5 people in your household and you replace their brushes 4 times a year, it is well under $20 dollars to keep them regularly changed! Twenty dollars a year averages out to just under two dollars a month.

  1.   Keep it Away from the Toilet

Charles Gerba, Ph.D., Professor at the University of Arizona College of Public Health, Microbiology & Environmental Sciences, remarks that after a toilet has been flushed in a restroom, the spray from the force of the flush settles on all surrounding objects. This means that fecal matter is living on most toothbrushes left out in the bathroom (can I get a big “EEEEEWWWW”?!).

This can be easily remedied, by keeping brushes at least three meters from the toilet’s surface and also by closing the lid before flushing (especially with #2!)
While it might seem easier to keep the brushes in a sealed container, this can actually cause mold to grow and bacteria to spread more than in open air.

  1.  Don’t Share Brushes

It may seem like a no-brainer, but even if you are comfortable sharing drinks with family members, toothbrushes are drastically different! Instead of simply putting your mouth on something, think of it as sharing a device that is designed to scrape all of that bacteria out!

Contrary to popular belief, toothbrushes are not benefitted by being put in the microwave or dishwasher for cleaning. Not only is it not as effective as it seems but it can actually cause damage to the brush, causing you to have to replace it sooner.