Okay, so we had a few funky germs in our home over the holiday season and while washing the bedding and airing out the house, I remembered that bacteria can also linger on our toothbrushes. Most of us brush at least twice a day. Funny how good health can be derailed when brushing with a germy toothbrush, one with lingering bits of bacteria. It’s easy to forget, right? So, do I replace or clean? Read on for the latest info on staying toothbrush-healthy following an infection.
There are differing opinions as to whether one needs to replace or merely clean a toothbrush following a flu or any other infection. To me (along with concurring research), a clean toothbrush reduces any bacterial residue, thus promoting improved health along with good dental hygiene. When I think about re-introducing any germs while I’m brushing AND in recovery mode, it makes me cringe.
Jeff Salmeri, with Dynamic Dental notes that, “toothbrushes are fertile breeding grounds for a number of strains of viruses and bacteria including the ones that cause the common cold and influenza.” Note: Those who have compromised immune systems or low resistance to infection due to cancer treatments can be particularly at high risk.
The American Dental Association recommends replacing one’s toothbrush every 3-4 months or sooner, especially if the bristles become frayed with use. Doing so “may decrease the number of bacteria to the user.” Children may also need to have their brushes replaced more often since they tend to chew on the bristles. Dentist Karyn Kahn, DDS, also suggests that when you can visually see discoloration, buildup or matting of the bristles, it’s time to replace.
That being said, there is general agreement on the common-sense approaches to keep infection and re-infection to a minimum for everyone.
Top 5 Clean Toothbrush Tips! (In between replacement)
Always rinse your toothbrush and the handle in hot water before and after using to help kill germs.
- Always thoroughly dry your toothbrush between use. Keeping your toothbrush in a closed damp container can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Some folks alternate between brushes to let one completely air dry.
- The best toothbrush holder to use is upright and doesn’t touch any other toothbrush.
- NEVER share your toothbrush to avoid cross contamination.
- NEVER store your toothbrush by the toilet. Two to three feet is sufficient and keep the lid down to keep airborne germs from contaminating your brush.
Top Cleaning methods for Cleaning Toothbrushes!
Here are four easy and effective methods to do daily or weekly:
- Soak your toothbrush for 30 minutes in a cup of any of these antibacterial solutions: white vinegar hydrogen peroxide or mouthwash replacing each time you use.
- Select a UV toothbrush sanitizer approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). These work by combining steam with dry heat to sanitize your toothbrushes.
- Use a toothbrush shield that allow for complete drying and are handy for traveling. A package of 10 is $10 at your local drugstore or Amazon.
- Throw your toothbrush holders in the dishwasher weekly for a good cleansing too!
- Don’t forget to throw your toothbrush holders into the dishwasher each week when you’re running another cycle.
- While some methods recommend boiling, microwaving or popping your toothbrush in the dishwasher, these may actually damage the bristles.
If you’ve been lucky enough to miss illness so far, you might re-read or share my post on “Enter The No-Flu Zone-Boost your Immune System!” and other tips for staying healthy! https://christysnontoxiclifestyle.com/no_flu_zone/
While we’re all in the middle of flu and cold season, don’t forget about the importance of keeping your toothbrushes clean and minimizing the transference of more bacteria into your system. I highly recommend making it Priority Number 1 when on your list of changing bedding and airing out the house!
Be Well with Sparkling Smiles this Flu Season!
American Dental Association
Cleveland Clinic-HealthEssentials-Dr. Karyn Kahn DDS (2014)
DynamicDental-Jeff Salmeri (2012)
If you “Like” this post, I’d be thrilled if you’d share it.