Everyone wants good health, and clean teeth contribute to general well-being. Using a dirty or
germy toothbrush can undo a world of good! By inserting a bacteria-laden tool into your
mouth, you may actually be re-infecting yourself!
Cleaner Tools Mean a Cleaner Mouth
First, using toothpaste – every time – actually helps to keep your toothbrush healthier. Be sure
to rinse your toothbrush well every time you brush. (That means, at least twice a day!). Using
clean fingers, wiggle the bristles underwater, making sure all debris is removed. Store your
toothbrush standing upright (bristles up) in a holder or cup, so the bristles can air-dry
completely. Wash the container regularly in your automatic dishwasher.
Do not share toothbrushes – ever. Also, avoid storing household toothbrushes in a communal
cup or holder. This is a sure and speedy way to share germs among family members!
When traveling, store your toothbrush in a plastic toothbrush protector. This will ensure it does
not come in contact with other items in your luggage.
Antibacterial soaps, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, microwaving, and boiling have not been
proven to sterilize toothbrushes. High-heat dish washing is the safest bet. At least once a week,
run your toothbrush through an automatic dishwasher, using HIGH heat to dry it. Because
plastic can melt at high heat, you will want to put your toothbrush on the top rack. Prop a dish
over the handle, so it does not become dislodged during cleaning.
When in Doubt, Toss It Out
The Canadian Dental Association suggests replacing your toothbrush at least every three
months – or after a cold or illness. Toothbrushes present an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.
A new toothbrush may cost a dollar or two, which is much cheaper than sick days from work,
cold and flu remedies, physician visits, and resulting prescriptions!
If the bristles on your toothbrush begin to look worn or matted down, then it’s time for a new
brush as well. Your toothbrush is a tool, and it will only work well, if it is in good condition.
(Incidentally, if you wear braces on your teeth, your toothbrush may wear out faster, as
orthodontic appliances can bend and fray the bristles.)
Dentists generally distribute new promotional (brand-name) toothbrushes at your twice-annual
cleanings. That means, you only need to purchase a few more toothbrushes each year.
Besides, you can keep those old toothbrushes for many other uses, including housecleaning in
tight spots, craft projects, and cleaning your dog’s teeth.
As an added safeguard, all toothbrush holders, travel cases, and similar items should be
disinfected and dried — before and after each use.
A few simple steps can go a long way towards a healthier mouth – and a healthier YOU!