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Is Your Toothbrush Clean?

Did you know more than 500 species of bacteria live in a healthy mouth? With its warm temperature, soft tissue, and a steady supply of food, the human mouth is the perfect host for these microscopic organisms. While some oral bacteria help break down nutrients, other strains cause tooth decay and gum disease. Every morning and night, your toothbrush is exposed to these bacterial strains. When you're done brushing your teeth, the bacteria from your mouth sit on the bristles for hours at a time. If you're like many adults and keep your toothbrush in the bathroom, your toothbrush may also come in contact with water from washing hands and airborne bacteria from the toilet. Then when you brush again, all those germs hop back inside your mouth. Not exactly pleasant, is it? To cut back on germs, follow these tips and tricks for a cleaner toothbrush and contact your Edmonton dentist for more teeth cleaning tips.

Cleaning and Storing Your Toothbrush You might not give much thought to your brushing routine, but if you're worried about germs and bacteria, you may need to switch things up a bit. Rinse Before and After Each Use When you're finished brushing, rinse your toothbrush with tap water to remove any debris and toothpaste caught in the bristles. If your toothbrush has been sitting in your bathroom all night, it doesn't hurt to give it an additional rinse before you apply toothpaste. Keep Your Toothbrush Dry While you may want to cover your toothbrush and keep it safe from the open air, don't. Many strains of bacteria that cause gum disease are anaerobic, so they die when they're exposed to air. Simply letting your toothbrush air dry overnight will help kill hundreds of bacteria strains. On the other hand, if you put your toothbrush in a covered container, you trap bacteria with your toothbrush. If your toothbrush touches the walls of the container, the germs on the container will contaminate your toothbrush, too. Store It Upright Store your toothbrush upright (handle down and bristles up) whenever possible. Use a toothbrush holder, if necessary. This enables water to drain and collect at the bottom of the toothbrush. Ideally, your toothbrush holder should have good ventilation and will keep toothbrushes separated so they do not cross contaminate each other. Some toothbrush holders have drains at the bottom to prevent water and scum buildup. Don't forget to clean your toothbrush holder regularly, too! Replace Your Toothbrush Every 3 to 4 Months Even if you do everything you can to keep your toothbrush clean, you'll want to replace it every few months (more often if your bristles become worn and frayed). New toothbrushes remove plaque and bacteria more effectively than old ones, so swapping out your toothbrush will keep your mouth clean and healthy. Additional Tips to Keep Your Toothbrush Clean While the above tips are standard recommendations for keeping your toothbrush clean, many dentists recommend the following tips as well. Use a Travel Toothbrush Holder When on Vacation While you'll want to keep your toothbrush uncovered at home, it's better to keep it covered when you're on the road. Use a travel toothbrush holder to protect your toothbrush from dirt, dust, and bacteria present in your toiletry bag. Don't Swap Your Toothbrush with Family Members No matter how conscientious you may be about cleaning your toothbrush, never share your toothbrush with another individual—even your own family members. You don't want to swap each other's germs! Ways to Deep Clean and Sanitize Your Toothbrush Bacteria will buildup on your toothbrush, even if you rinse it regularly and let it air dry. To deep clean your toothbrush, use the following techniques:

  • Microwave - Microwaving your toothbrush may eliminate several types of bacteria and viruses. Do not microwave toothbrushes with metal parts, and do not heat your toothbrush for too long (60 seconds in sterilized water should do the trick). Keep in mind that heating the toothbrush may damage your toothbrush.

  • Antibacterial mouthwash – Soak your toothbrush in an antibacterial mouthwash for at least 10 minutes once a week. Make sure the mouthwash contains alcohol.

  • Bleach and water – Create a mixture of 1/3 bleach and 2/3 water (or hydrogen peroxide or vinegar). Soak your toothbrush in the solution for at least 10 minutes once a week.

Toss Your Toothbrush When You're Sick When you're sick, you may have more bacteria in your mouth than you normally do. Scientists have yet to discover how much bacteria remains on your toothbrush after you rinse it and if it would be enough to make you sick again in the future. But, just to be safe, consider tossing your toothbrush when you've been sick. Want to Know More About Your Toothbrush? While these tips will help keep your toothbrush (and your mouth) clean, ask your dentist at Westmount Dental Centre for more information about what toothbrush is right for you. If you wish, use your toothbrush as a reminder to visit your Edmonton dentist. When you're ready to discard your next toothbrush, call us to schedule a checkup.


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