In the fight against plaque and dental decay, a toothbrush is your most essential tool. While most of the patients at our Edmond dental office brush daily to keep their teeth clean, not as many clean their toothbrushes as regularly. Let’s look at the how and why you need to keep your toothbrush clean.
Bacteria and Your Toothbrush
Your mouth is host to millions if not billions of bacteria. When you brush your tongue and teeth, the food debris, bacteria, saliva, and toothpaste remain on your toothbrush. Studies have shown that even after rinsing a toothbrush off with water, it can still be contaminated with various microorganisms.
Researchers say that thousands of different microorganisms can grow the bristles and handle of a toothbrush. While many of these organisms are harmless and grow naturally in the mouth, some can cause illnesses.
Researchers say that no evidence suggests that using a toothbrush with normal bacteria will cause oral infections or other health problems. But it’s still a good idea to keep your toothbrush clean. After all, it goes in your mouth, so the fewer foreign substances, the better.
How to Disinfect Your Toothbrush
First, let’s start by saying you should never put your toothbrush in the microwave or the dishwasher. Both options may cause your toothbrush to melt or damage it somehow. Instead, try one of the following methods recommended by the dentists at our Edmond dental office:
UV sanitizer. One study showed that an ultraviolet toothbrush sanitizer is more effective at cleaning a toothbrush than an antiseptic mouthwash or saline. A UV light would be the gold standard for keeping your brush clean, but it is a little bit of an overkill.
Disinfecting solutions. Research has shown that soaking your toothbrush in a 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution will kill lingering bacteria.
To use and make this solution:
- Mix 1 teaspoon of peroxide with a cup of water
- Soak the bristles of your toothbrush in the solution for 15 minutes
- Rinse your toothbrush thoroughly in clean water before using
- If you decide to use this method, make sure you change the solution every day
For a more straightforward solution, you can also disinfect your toothbrush was swirling it in an antimicrobial mouthwash for 30 seconds. If you don’t have mouthwash, you can mix two teaspoons of baking soda into a cup of water instead.
Keeping Your Toothbrush Clean
By keeping your toothbrush after each use, you reduce the number of bacteria that can build up to cause you trouble.
Rinse with hot water. After brushing, take a few seconds to rinse your toothbrush with hot water. This will help to soften the bristles and release any lingering food particles or toothpaste. Rub your thumb over the bristles under the water, and then rinse the brush again in cold water so the bristles firm up.
Air dry your brush. A moist environment promotes the growth of bacteria like mold. Studies have shown that toothbrushes stored in a closed container, travel case, or cover have more bacteria when compared to brushes allowed to air dry. Ideally, the best place to store your toothbrush is standing up with the bristles fully exposed.
Store your toothbrush away from the toilet. Fine droplets of toilet water are propelled into the air every time you flush the toilet. These droplets can linger in the air for up to two hours, and it’s best not to think too hard about what they may contain. If you can’t move your toothbrush far away from the toilet, always shut the lid before flushing to minimize droplet spread.
Keep the area around your brush clean. It makes no sense to clean your brush if you lay it on a dirty surface once done. Use disposable wipes to keep the area around your brush free of dirt, dried toothpaste, and other slimy items that could contaminate.
Change your brush every 2 to 3 months. Daily use will wear down your toothbrush, making it less effective at cleaning your teeth. It’s a good idea to change out your brush every 2 to 2 months. If you need a new brush, we can provide you with one during your next visit to our Edmond dental office.