We wash our clothes. We clean our dishes. We clean our floors. We keep dust off the furniture. But how many of us show any TLC for one of the most important hygiene items in the house...our toothbrush?
Urban legend has it that a dog's mouth is cleaner than a human's. While that may be true in some severe cases [like your weird uncle whose breath can cut right through a bank vault], our mouths, and therefore our tooth brushes, do harbor all kinds of bugs.
"The oral cavity is home to hundreds of different types of microorganisms, which can be transferred to a toothbrush during use," said Dr. Maria L. Geisinger, assistant professor of periodontology in the School of Dentistry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Here are some recommendations to make sure your toothbrush is safe to you and those around you:
- Don't share toothbrushes, and store different family member's toothbrushes at least an inch apart.
- Rinse thoroughly after each use.
- Allow toothbrush to air dry after each use, preferably in the upright position.
- This will keep bacteria from breeding. Don't store in a small, moist, closed container.
- Replace your toothbrush after having a cold or the flu.
- If you have a compromised immune system, rinse your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash BEFORE you clean your teeth. This will reduce the germs passed to your toothbrush.
- Get a new toothbrush every 3 to 4 months, or more frequently if you notice the bristles breaking down. While this won't reduce bacteria, it will ensure the best cleaning power.
And if that's not enough, here's one more for the list...
Keep your toothbrush as far from the toilet as possible or you may be brushing with something you don't want!!
"If you have your toothbrush too close to the toilet," says microbiologist Charles Gerba, PhD, "you are brushing your teeth with what's in the toilet!" He explains that when you flush with the lid open, contaminated water vapors settle on surfaces in your bathroom, including your toothbrush. Eeew!!
So, keep your toothbrush clean and upright, and your lid down!!