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Are You Aware of What Lurks on your Toothbrush?
According to experts at the University of Manchester in England, your toothbrush contains more than 100 million bacteria, including E. coli and staphylococci (Staph) bacteria. Fecal germs were also identified on your toothbrushes, according to the University of Alabama in Birmingham.
All of this may sound alarming, but don't be alarmed. Your mouth is also full of bacteria, and while your toothbrush is unlikely to make you sick, there are steps you can do to keep it clean and stay healthy.
Brushing your teeth is given a lot of attention, but the dental cleaning products that are used to do it get a lot less. A toothbrush is an important part of excellent oral hygiene, yet it may be causing more damage than good. It's strange that a toothbrush is supposed to keep your teeth and gums clean, yet it can also store a lot of bacteria that can make you sick. However, with a little forethought and common sense, you can put your toothbrush worries to rest and keep your teeth healthy and clean.
Bacteria in My Mouth!
"Every day, there are hundreds of bacteria in our mouths," explains Gayle McCombs, RDH, MS, associate professor and director of Old Dominion University's Dental Hygiene Research Center.
Even plaque, which you're attempting to brush off your teeth, is primarily made up of bacteria. Unless there is an unfavorable bacterial balance in the mouth, none of this is cause for alarm.
Our mouths are naturally packed with bacteria, which we try to eliminate with our toothbrushes. We're so focused on getting the bacteria out of our mouths that we forget germs can live on our brushes. Although your body's natural defenses are usually strong enough to keep the bacteria on your toothbrush from making you sick, why risk your health when a few simple procedures may put your mind at ease?
When Should You Throw Away Your Toothbrush?
The American Dental Association suggests replacing your toothbrush every three to four months, or more frequently if the bristles get ragged, you are unwell, or your immune system is impaired. Replace the head of an electric toothbrush as often as you would a standard disposable brush. Brushes for children may need to be replaced more frequently than brushes for adults. The toothbrush is essential for proper oral hygiene, yet many people are unaware of the need for toothbrush maintenance. A healthy smile necessitates a healthy toothbrush, according to family dentistry experts.
If the color of your toothbrush bristles has changed? It's also letting you know that it's time to replace it. Many manufacturers, notably electric toothbrushes, include "reminder bristles" in their brush heads. These vividly colored bristles will eventually fade to white or transparent after several months of use. When the majority of the color has faded, it's time to replace your toothbrush. If your toothbrush is turning yellow or another unappealing color, there may be an issue with your dental health or habits, which you should discuss with us at your next appointment.
Is It Possible That Your Toothbrush Is Making You Sick?
Your toothbrush is unlikely to give you an illness. Your immune system can typically handle any bacterial intruders, even if your brush is covered in microorganisms. You should, however, take excellent care of your toothbrush and maintain it clean. The following slides go through how to properly care for and store your toothbrush to reduce the risk of infection.
If your toothbrush is damp, there's another possibility besides poor storage: another member of your household may have mistaken your toothbrush for their own! Make sure you're not sharing a toothbrush with someone else by accident. Even for couples that kiss, this is highly hazardous for your dental hygiene!
Where You Flush, Don't Brush!
It's crucial to know where you keep your toothbrush in your bathroom. The toilet is usually located near the sink, which is where most people keep their toothbrushes. When you flush, bacteria are released into the air, which you don't want on your toothbrush.
"It's really common sense," adds McCombs, to keep your toothbrush as far away from the toilet as possible. If at all possible, store it in a medicine cabinet, and always close the toilet lid before flushing to prevent bacteria from spreading to your toothbrush.
Or try to keep your toothbrush away from the flush, keeping it upright in a holder rather than lying it at the sink is a good idea. After each use, properly rinse your toothbrush, dry it, and store it apart from other brushes. Brush covers should also be avoided because they breed bacteria.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Natalia Judith Zwarts