To UV or Not to UV

One item in the arsenal of oral hygiene products is the ultraviolet light sanitation device, or UV light. The manufacturers of these devices say that cleaning your toothbrush with a UV light is the best way to keep it, and you, safe from microorganisms, viruses, bacteria, and illness. While it’s true that most illnesses are caused by such microscopic things, are UV lights so revolutionary that you’re endangering yourself by not using one?

The Facts About UV Light Sanitizers

As with any device that hits the market, researchers test and experiment with samples to verify their effectiveness, reliability, and general benefit for the consumer. Several studies posted in dental journals show that UV lights eliminate significant amounts of bacteria and microorganisms from toothbrushes. Of course, they cannot claim 100% success – after all, microorganisms are constantly present all around us. Even so, a healthy immune system coupled with proper cleanliness provides the best odds against sickness. And interestingly, there are other household methods that also show substantial effectiveness in cleaning your toothbrush.

UV Sanitizer Alternatives

Some studies compared UV light to clever, do-it-yourself ways of cleaning your toothbrush. For instance, your dishwasher or microwave does just as good a job as a UV light. However, some might protest at seeing your toothbrush coming out of the dishwasher with their spoons and forks. Also, the microwave is not only cooking off the organisms and bacteria, but it’s cooking your toothbrush as well. Most studies recommend using this method for no more than sixty seconds per session. Any further time could result in a melting toothbrush. But if you use an electric toothbrush, consider both of these options as dangerous!

Studies also examined soaking your toothbrush in mouthwash. After all, if it works so well battling the bacteria in your mouth, certainly it can do the same job for your toothbrush. Soaking your toothbrush for up to twenty minutes provides effective cleansing, but it also means you will double or even triple the amount of mouthwash you use daily. That could become expensive over time. And again, this may not be a suitable technique for an electric toothbrush.

So, how about simply rinsing your toothbrush after every use and letting it air-dry? Some studies show this to be adequate; others list it as inferior. The result is affected by other factors. For example, it’s important to leave your toothbrush in an open, dry area as opposed to a dark cabinet or damp shower. At the same time, since many toothbrushes are left out in a bathroom, it’s important to remember that toilet flushing releases lots of particles into the surrounding air. Do you get the molecular picture? Air-drying is, however, the simplest and least expensive way to keep your toothbrush clean. You just need to find exactly the right place.

The Light Still Shines

Even when compared with other forms of toothbrush hygiene, UV lights hold up to scrutiny. They give your toothbrush a good sanitizing, but neither you nor your toothbrush will get a tan. Also, keep in mind that not all UV lights are created equal. Some drain batteries very quickly, others are not as durable, and still others are far too expensive for what they offer. Some quickly get dirty inside and harbor bacteria where “the light doesn’t shine.” That means they require nearly as much maintenance as the toothbrush.

So, if you want a UV light to sanitize your toothbrush, be sure to shop around. Read reviews, consider customer reports, and choose accordingly. But the most important tool to use, according to the Yuba City Dentistry Group, is your toothbrush! Good oral health to you!


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