You put your toothbrush inside your mouth at least twice a day, right? Well, have you ever stopped to think about how clean it actually is before using it? If you can’t remember the last time you replaced your toothbrush, or if your toothbrush is looking rather ratty, it is time to investigate how to properly care for it.
Below are helpful tips on caring for your toothbrush:
- Rinse your toothbrush well. Your toothbrush is a tool that is designed to loosen plaque buildup from the teeth. While a good bit of this plaque will be expelled from your mouth when you spit and rinse, there will be some that gets trapped in the bristles of your toothbrush. By rinsing your toothbrush well under fast, running water after each use, you will help to rinse away bacteria-laden plaque so that you do not put it back into your mouth.
- Allow your toothbrush to air dry. Bacteria thrive in moist environments, and your toothbrush provides an ideal environment each time you use it. In order to limit the growth of bacteria on your toothbrush, it is important to store it uncovered in an upright position so that it will air dry quickly. If you must cover your toothbrush for travel, make sure that it is completely dry before packing it.
- Do not share your toothbrush. Remember, there will be some bacteria-laden plaque that will inevitably linger on your toothbrush. If you share your toothbrush, you are simply inviting someone else’s plaque into your own mouth – which is gross.
- Keep your toothbrush away from the toilet. If your bathroom does not have a door separating the toilet from the rest of the room, it is incredibly important that you pay attention to where you keep your toothbrush. With every flush of the toilet, there is overspray that enters the air. This overspray contains urine and fecal matter, and it will land on anything in its path. By keeping your toothbrush as far away as possible, you can protect it, and yourself.
- Replace your toothbrush often. The American Dental Association recommends that you replace your toothbrush every 3-6 months so that you have a clean tool to use for cleaning your mouth. This is the reason your dentist gives you a new toothbrush at each dental visit.
- Replace your toothbrush after illness. Germs can linger on almost any surface for 7-10 days. If you have recently been ill with a cold, strep throat, the flu, a stomach virus, or another illness, it is important to replace your toothbrush after your symptoms begin to subside. Replacing your toothbrush prevents re-infection of the illness you just recovered from.