Bacteria is bad for your teeth—there’s no question that excessive exposure can lead to cavities, bad breath, plaque, and gum disease. That’s why you want to make sure you’re doing all you can to avoid it. But what about when it comes to your number one dental care tool—your toothbrush? Should you be worried about bacteria build up?
The human mouth hosts hundreds of types of microorganisms, some of which can end up on your toothbrush after use. Your toothbrush may also pick up organisms from its environment. Shiny new toothbrushes right out of the box may even be carrying bacteria—there’s no regulation requiring them to be sold in sterilized containers.
Studies have not linked bacterial growth on properly stored and cared for toothbrushes to any specific health problems. If you take good care of your toothbrush, you should be just fine. But there’s a lot of advice out there. Can you tell which of the following are true and which are false?
True or False: You Need a Toothbrush Sanitizer
FALSE. Toothbrush sanitizers have not been shown to provide any health benefits. Some have, however, been proven to reduce regular accumulation of bacteria on toothbrushes. If you like the peace of mind that comes with that, the ADA recommends buying a sanitizer cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Be wary of claims that go beyond sanitizing bristles and reducing bacteria.
True or False: You Should Replace Your Toothbrush Every Few Months
TRUE. The American Dental Association recommends replacing your toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles begin to fray. Worn bristles don’t clean as well, and your toothbrush gets less effective at removing plaque over time.
True or False: Closed Toothbrush Storage Keeps Out the Germs
FALSE. Regularly putting toothbrushes in closed containers keeps them from drying out. Moisture creates an ideal breeding ground for most germs. Don’t encourage them.
True or False: I Should Regularly Run My Toothbrush Through the Dishwasher
FALSE. Sure, if you accidentally drop your toothbrush on the bathroom floor, you might want to give it an extra thorough cleaning. But multiple runs through the dishwasher could actually damage the bristles and cause them to wear out faster. Rinsing in plain water is enough to keep your toothbrush clean for regular use
Best Practices for a Safe and Healthy Toothbrush
Your best bet is to use common sense in reducing bacteria and avoiding germ growth. Aside from replacing your toothbrush regularly, keep the following in mind:
- Don’t share toothbrushes. They can transfer bacteria from one mouth to another.
- Do thoroughly rinse your toothbrush under running water after brushing.
- Do store toothbrushes upright. This lets them dry quicker.
- Don’t let toothbrushes touch each other in the holder. You don’t want to transfer germs.
- Don’t store your toothbrush near the toilet. It may be exposed to germs that become airborne during flushing.
- Do let your toothbrush dry completely before packing it for a vacation.
Your toothbrush is your best tool in the fight against tooth decay and gum disease. Treat it right and it will return the favor.
Check in with your dentist for recommendations on the best toothbrush for you. Set up your next appointment by contacting Countryside Dental Group today.