The (Gross) Truth About Your Toothbrush

Brushing your teeth will never be the same again. 

When choosing a new toothbrush, most of us pay a few seconds attention to the style, take it home, leave it near the sink and never give it another thought.

At some point we notice that the bristles are seriously bent out of shape and add it to our shopping list along with other essentials.

But research has found the average toothbrush contains a disgusting 10 million bacteria, or more. Furthermore, a study by the University of Manchester in England discovered E. Coli (which can cause diarrhea) and Staphylococci (which can cause skin infections) among the bacteria hiding in our toothbrushes.

So if you’re feeling seriously grossed out, take heart; there are some simple tricks to ensure your toothbrush stays as bacteria-free as possible…

Change your toothbrush regularly

It’s common to leave it too long to swap to a new brush, but chair of the ADA Oral Health Committee, Dr Peter Alldritt says we need to make it a priority.

“You should replace your toothbrush when it begins to show wear, or every three months, whichever comes first. A good way to remember is to change your toothbrush every season.”

Buy a new one if you’ve been ill

Most of us are so focused on dosing up with anti-flu medications, painkillers and getting better that our toothbrushes aren’t front of mind when we’re under the weather. However Dr Alldritt says they should be.

“It is prudent to change toothbrushes after you have had a cold or other illness. The bristles can collect germs that can lead to reinfection.”

Store it carefully

Every bathroom is different but there are some golden guidelines on how to store your toothbrush to avoid bacteria.

“Do not store your toothbrush in a sealed container; allow it to dry upright in the air. Do not let it touch other people’s toothbrushes or place in a container that doesn’t drain either. Bacteria collects at the base of these containers and contaminates the base of the toothbrush,” explains Dr Alldritt.

Don’t try to de-germ it

There are plenty of health myths on the internet, and de-germing your toothbrush in the microwave is just one. But beware, there is no truth in this urban dental legend.

“De-germing is not an option for toothbrushes. The best option is to throw old toothbrushes away and buy a new one,” recommends Dr Aldritt.

Keep it away from your toilet

The majority of people keep their toothbrush in a bathroom which also has a toilet in it. The problem with that set-up is, when you flush your toilet, microscopic particles of bacteria are sent flying into the air, potentially making their way into your brush bristles. (Yeah, ew.) So either close the lid before you flush, or keep your toothbrush and storage cup as far away from the toilet as humanly possible.

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