Most of us only think about our toothbrushes the two (or more!) times per day that we go to pick them up, layer on that toothpaste, and start brushing. (For two minutes at a time, of course!) BUT, when we’re not giving them the love they deserve, they may be exposed to germs and bacteria unidentifiable by the common eye.
Here are some quick tips for how to keep your toothbrush clean:
- In order to clean your toothbrush effectively, make sure that you rinse thoroughly with water, both BEFORE and AFTER you use it.
- If you don’t have faith in water alone, you can use disinfectants like antiseptic mouthwash or hydrogen peroxide.
- Store your toothbrush properly! You may be tempted to put it into an enclosed space, but this is where it can attract more bacteria and germs. Make sure that it is placed standing upright with the bristles visible and distanced from other toothbrushes, so that it can properly dry between uses. We call this “social distancing before it was a thing.”
- Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months; this applies to electric toothbrush heads, too!
Because our mouths are home to millions of germs (think: dental plaque), that means that germs will inevitably collect on our toothbrushes. BUT, that’s not the only source that can generate bacteria that ends up on your bristles. In general, we keep our toothbrushes in the bathroom, but is this the only activity we perform in the bathroom? When you flush a toilet, the water that swirls to remove waste from the bowl mixes with small particles of waste, which can shoot fecal particles into the air. These toilet plumes can actually reach up to 15 feet, and research has shown that particles can end up on toothbrushes.
Not to fear – we’re here to bring you even more information on how you can prevent the spread of germs to and from your toothbrush AND the best ways you can clean it!
- Handwashing – This simple act is certainly not a foreign concept to us given, you know, pandemic times. If you wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water before AND after you use your toothbrush, you can reduce the risk of transmitting bacteria or viruses to your bristles.
- Rinsing – Before placing your toothbrush back in its home, you’ll want to thoroughly rinse your toothbrush with tap water to remove any excess particles gained during brushing.
- Storing Your Toothbrush Properly – As we mentioned above, you’ll want to ensure that you place your toothbrush in an upright position in an open air environment after each use to ensure that it dries out completely and thoroughly. Because most of the bacteria that live on our toothbrushes are anaerobic, this means that oxygen kills them. So if they’re positioned in an upright manner, air-drying should kill most of the bacteria. Germs flourish in moist or closed containers, which is why open air is important. Try not to store your toothbrush too close to your toilet to avoid potential plumes. If there are multiple toothbrushes sharing a similar space, then they should not touch to avoid transferring germs.
- Keeping Your Toothbrush Safe While Traveling – Your toothbrush will likely be covered during the actual act of transit but it’s important that you unpack it, remove it from its case, and properly store it wherever you go. It’s imperative that you air-dry it for as long as possible before returning it to its cover / traveling case. We’d also recommend cleaning your toothbrush’s travel case in hot water to thoroughly rinse and disinfect it. You might also consider soaking it in antibacterial mouthwash for 10-15 minutes as well.
- Replacing Your Toothbrush – We know, it can be hard to let things go. But sometimes it’s for the best, and in the case of your toothbrush, your relationship should only last 3-4 months. If you notice your bristles becoming matted or frayed before that time-frame, then it’s also time to replace it. Lastly, if you’ve been sick with the flu, common cold, COVID-19 or any other virus, you’ll want to replace your toothbrush.
As always, if you have any toothbrush-related questions, feel free to get in touch with us. We’re here for you and happy to provide any dental-related assistance you may need!