Austin, TX – With recent states of emergencies declared about the coronavirus, it is important to know what to do. According to the World Health Organization, and the CDC, our best line of defense against viruses and bacteria are hygiene. Washing our hands, limiting contact with other people are a sure-fire way to containing the spread of the disease. It makes sense because most viruses, including the coronavirus, are spread through direct contact and water particles via coughing and sneezing.
So, with that in mind we need to talk. There is an object in your house that isn’t food that has constant contact with saliva. It does not care if you are sick or healthy and only discriminates based on who touched it last. I am talking about your old toothbrush. The bristles have constant contact with your saliva, bacteria, and it sits at room temperature. This makes it a breeding ground for viruses if they are not regularly cleaned or replaced.
So, we will talk about the importance of toothbrush sanitization and replacement.
How Does Bacteria Grow on my Toothbrush?
While the ADA states that there is not sufficient evidence to prove that bacteria can grow on your toothbrush, some dentists argue that bacterial residue could still sit on the bristles of the brush. Especially if you brush regularly at twice a day. According to spiritdental.com. “Some germs you remove from your mouth through brushing might remain on the brush even after you’ve rinsed it off with water. Bacteria and viruses that could lead to the colds and the flu may make their home on your toothbrush, which is why some experts recommend disinfecting your brush just once a week as a precaution.”
However, it should also be noted that while it might be a good idea to think about disinfecting your toothbrush or replacing it outright after a disease makes its presence known in your house, doing it daily can be a wasted effort. Especially if you try to do it every day.
According to a now offline 2016 CDC article about toothbrush handling:
“Various means of cleaning, disinfecting, or sterilizing toothbrushes between uses have been developed, but no published research documents by dentists have stated that brushing with a contaminated toothbrush has led to recontamination of a user’s mouth, oral infections, or other adverse health effects.
- You need not soak toothbrushes in disinfecting solutions or mouthwash, which may spread germs under the right conditions.
- You need not use dishwashers, microwaves, or ultraviolet devices to disinfect toothbrushes. These methods may damage the toothbrush.
- Avoid covering toothbrushes or storing them in closed containers, which can cause the growth of bacteria.”
So, what should you do to make sure that your toothbrush is free of excess germs? Can you balance the two extremes?
What are Some Basic Toothbrush Hygiene Precautions
Here are a few ways, according to the ADA and CDC, that you can stay on top of toothbrush hygiene.
- Don’t share your toothbrush. Duh. You could swap pathogens.
- Rinse it well after every use. Wash off any remaining food particles and toothpaste. (We can also personally vouch for the vigorous wrist-flicking method.)
- Don’t let anyone else’s toothbrush head touch yours. If you store several toothbrushes in the same holder, the CDC advises not letting the brush heads touch each other.
- Replace it at least every three to four months. Toothbrushes become less effective. Swap in a new one before this if the bristles become visibly frayed.
If you want to go the extra mile and sanitize your tooth brush without getting it damaged, you want either
- to invest in a sanitation product that relies on dry heat and steam or
- invest in a small uv-c light to go over the head of the brush.
Doing these every once a week is not as damaging as doing it every day. While there is no proof on how effective it is on toothbrushes, there is scientific evidence that both high temperatures and ultraviolet light can kill both viruses and bacteria.
If you have bought no sterilizing equipment for your manual toothbrush, then there is always the option of putting them in the dishwasher. The temperature inside a dishwasher is enough to sterilize equipment and will kill most germs that can’t survive that temperature range. Freezing anything won’t work because it only slows down the growth of bacteria, and it will return to growing once it hits the normal temperature range.
If you have any questions regarding dental hygiene or how to keep your toothbrush clean, don’t panic. You can always call your family dentists anytime.