Did you know that your toothbrush is a vessel for bacteria? And if it is not appropriately kept, you may be amassing an assortment of germs and bacteria and transferring these to your oral cavity when you brush your teeth? The ADA recently came out with a study along with the University of Alabama that has shown and proven the importance of proper storage of your toothbrush and the effects of bacteria that grow on your toothbrush.
It has been said for years to make sure you always store your toothbrush 8 feet away from your toilet, because fecal fumes and bacteria can shower your toothbrush and expose you to intestinal bacteria, coliforms, yeasts and Staphylococci (Staph Infection). Yes, that’s right! According to Maria L. Geisinger, DDS, assistant professor of periodontology in the School of Dentistry at the University of Alabama Birmingham, “Appropriate storage and care of your toothbrush are important to achieving personal oral hygiene and optimally effective plaque removal. “
Our mouth has hundreds of varieties of microorganisms which are capable of transporting to your toothbrush when you are brushing your teeth. As we all know, mostly all of us store our toothbrushes in the bathroom, which can be considered the cleanest room in your home but can also expose your toothbrush and your oral cavity to a slurry of gastrointestinal microorganisms that can be transmitted by “fecal-oral” path. According to Dr. Geisinger “The number of microorganisms can vary wildly from undetectable to 1 million colony-forming units.” Proper care of your toothbrush is the essential to your health overall.
So the question remains, what is the correct way and method to store your toothbrush in order to avoid transference of these bacteria and microorganisms?
What should I do if I am sick? Should I continue to use the same toothbrush?
It has been recommended by the ADA to throw away your toothbrush and replace it after sickness. It’s not worth the risk; no one likes to be sick let alone repeatedly sick! Toss it!
When should I replace my toothbrush?
We recommend you replace your toothbrush every 3 months. Not only do your toothbrush bristles breakdown over time and become less effective, they can also accumulate harmful bacteria that can not only affect you but if stored close to another toothbrush can cross contaminate another toothbrush as well.
We recommend the following to not only procure your oral health but to also offset any accumulation of bacteria in your mouth.
- Wash your hands (thoroughly and often)
- Regular Cleanings. Don’t miss your routine dental cleaning, exam and x-rays. Make sure to pre-appoint for your 6, 4 or 3 month cleaning so you won’t ever miss a cleaning. By committing to having your teeth cleaned regularly you can decrease the bacterial burden that accrues in your mouth in a very short extent of time. By having your teeth cleaned and examined we can not only catch cavities in their early stages, but we can also eradicate the bacteria that accumulate and are non-removable by just your toothbrush.
- Antimicrobial Mouth Rinse. Use Antimicrobial mouth rinse before you brush your teeth. This assists you in decreasing the bacterial burden in your mouth that you can obtain from your toothbrush (if not properly stored).
- Don’t share your toothbrush. Ever.
- Floss regularly. By flossing your teeth you are removing bacteria from between the teeth, where your toothbrush is incapable of reaching. We recommend you floss 2-3 times a day, but even once is better than nothing. Create a habit, start one time a day and make it part of your regular routine just like brushing your teeth!
Procuring your oral health is paramount! We only get one set of adult teeth, so take care and be wise with your decisions. Get your teeth cleaned regularly, brush and floss daily, wash your hands and use commons sense. Don’t share your toothbrush, ever! By all means store your toothbrush in a cool dry place, preferably upside down in a cup to air dry and make sure to clean out the cup daily. The location where you store your toothbrush, can also accumulate harmful bacteria, so take care and be smart but be consistent!