You count on your toothbrush to help control plaque, tartar and related acid-generating bacteria. However, your toothbrush also has the potential to increase cavity and gum disease risks and spread illnesses like the flu. For children, immune-compromised adults and those prone to dry mouth, these risks can be particularly serious. To help maintain the cleanliness and integrity of your toothbrush, follow these helpful tips.
Many of us simply leave the toothbrush on the edge of the bathroom sink, or maybe in a medicine cabinet. For families, you may decide to keep all toothbrushes in a single cup for convenience. This environment, however, presents multiple exposure risks, including:
- Bacteria from your toilet.
- Chemicals from cleaning supplies.
- Dampness from an unventilated bathroom.
- Germs shared between toothbrushes.
- Moisture and mold from the sink and shower.
These factors can result in premature wear and bacteria buildup on your toothbrush. Instead, get in the habit of washing and drying your toothbrush after use. Keep it in a dry location, and avoid using a toothbrush cover, as bacteria and moisture can also accumulate inside. Make sure all toothbrushes are stored with space between them to avoid cross-contamination.
Poor storage can result in spreading bacteria, as well as viruses, all over your teeth. This not only increases your risk for certain illnesses, but it can also irritate your gums and invite tooth decay.
To limit bacteria exposure:
- Never share a toothbrush with someone, as you'll ultimately be exposed to all bacteria and saliva present in their mouth.
- Rinse your toothbrush before and after use, preferably with warm or hot tap water.
- Keep it in an upright position, rather than laying it down to air dry.
- As noted above, space out all toothbrushes. Bacteria and germs can spread when bristles are placed close together. Instead, make sure a few inches are between each toothbrush. Avoid keeping all toothbrushes together in a single cup.
- Avoid soaking your toothbrush, be it in mouthwash or an antiseptic solution, as the moisture can cause bacteria and germs to spread.
Effective Cleaning and Sanitizing
You've likely come across some hacks online that tout the benefits of placing your toothbrush in the dishwasher or microwave, or promise the ultimate clean through hydrogen peroxide soaking.
However, the high heat from microwaves and dishwashers can alter the toothbrush's structure and affect how well it cleans your teeth. Soaks - be it in mouthwash, hydrogen peroxide or saltwater - also don't increase effectiveness and may, in fact, attract bacteria. At most, boil water with a tea kettle, and dip the bristles in for no more than 30 seconds to remove bacteria. After, thoroughly dry your toothbrush.
For a more effective and reliable solution, consider an ultraviolet sanitizer, like the UVC Sanitizing Case that comes with the izzo® 4-in-1 Oral Care System. The UVC Sanitizing Case can kill 99.9% of bacteria and germs in three minutes.