Watching Out for Your Toothbrush
At the Yuba City Dental Group, we prefer safety and sanitation in our business practices – like social distancing and wearing masks and gloves – for your safety and ours. We regularly address any weak links in the safety and sanitation chain. Interestingly, one of the most vulnerable links in that chain is in your home, likely on your bathroom counter. An unsanitary toothbrush often provides a direct line for germs and bacteria to reach the soft tissues in your mouth, endangering your oral health. To help make sure that doesn’t happen, here are some ideas on keeping your toothbrush clean.
Tips for a Clean Toothbrush
Keep it to yourself – Imagine if your little brother stirred your coffee with a dill pickle. Would you still want that coffee? Probably not – you’d dispose of the ruined drink. It’s the same principle with your toothbrush. Everyone has their own combination of oral microorganisms, unique to how their own body and not meant to be shared. Sharing a toothbrush is a sure way to cause bacteria to spread into areas not meant for them, like adding pickle juice to coffee. Even among family members, your toothbrush should be yours alone, and remain that way.
Keep your hands clean – Hands and fingers often encounter foreign microscopic material, which could transfer to your toothbrush and then into your mouth. Wash your hands often – especially before eating, after using the restroom, and when you’re about to brush your teeth.
Rinse your toothbrush – Place your toothbrush under running water for several seconds after every use. This will dislodge food particles caught in the bristles, as well as help remove any buildup of toothpaste residue or bacteria. There are several options for disinfecting your toothbrush, but we will discuss those in another post.
Let it air dry – After rinsing your toothbrush, store it upright in an open area so it has a chance to dry out between uses. This eliminates the moisture that most bacteria need to grow, multiply, and attempt “mouth reentry” the next time you brush your teeth. Also, it’s best if that area is as far from the toilet as reasonably possible. (Note: UV sanitizers help reduce toothbrush bacteria, but often stop working due to the bathroom’s moist environment – not to mention the damp toothbrush itself. Again, we’ll discuss disinfection options in another post.)
Replace your toothbrush regularly – Using your toothbrush for two minutes, twice a day, naturally causes wear and tear on the bristles. Eventually they become frayed, and therefore much less effective at cleaning your teeth or protecting your oral health. The average toothbrush should be replaced about every three months. But what if you just recovered from a cold or flu, accidentally dropped it on the floor or – heaven forbid – it slipped into the toilet? Replace the toothbrush immediately. (Or boil it in water for three minutes, but not much more! Plastic melts, after all.) Many electric toothbrushes on the market come with extra bristle heads or offer inexpensive replacements for the bristle attachments so you don’t have to replace the entire device.
Your safety and sanitation chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Keeping your toothbrush clean makes sure your safety and sanitation chain is as strong as possible. Likewise, brushing your teeth twice a day, supplemented with flossing, and mouthwash as needed, help to keep your mouth safe and sanitized. If you would like to discuss your toothbrush and the best way to keep it clean in your circumstances, please give the Yuba City Dentistry Group a call or discuss it with us at your next visit – which you can schedule here, on our website.