Clean teeth and healthy pink gums resemble a good oral health and brushing regularly is a key to it. But what many people don’t know is that the toothbrush they are using to clean their pearly whites may also need cleaning. Your brush fights germs and plaque every day. As a result, it gets contaminated over time with bacteria, blood and even the toothpaste that gets stuck at the bottom of the bristles.
I know you brush twice a day to get that $1000 smile, but what if I told you that you may be doing harm in your pursuit of something better. The bacteria lives in your mouth in the form of sticky yellow substance called Plaque that gets stuck to the toothbrush making it unhealthy to clean your teeth.
The American Dental Association (ADA) suggests changing your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months but who is to say that this is a sure shot way of keeping them uncontaminated. The toothbrushes are sold in small boxes that are not at all sterilized so they might already have germs on them. Apart from this the ADA also quotes that there is no evidence to prove that the bacteria present on your toothbrush will certainly have adverse effects on your health.
But we all know that ‘prevention is better than cure’, so it won’t be a stretch to realize that changing your brush frequently is still a wise move.
Here are the basics of cleaning and storing that will help you have your toothbrush bacteria free:
- Rinse it – it is the easiest and oldest method to keep your brush clean from any remaining toothpaste or debris.
- Store it upright – storing it upright after use allows the water to drain from the bristles easier and all the water and particles collect at the bottom of the handle of the toothbrush. Also nasty scum collects at the bottom of containers that do not have a drain at the bottom, and you do not want your bristles touching that scum that could cause your bristles to collect mold and bacteria.
- Replace regularly – with regular usage the toothbrushes get worn out and require replacements. Due to bad habits like chewing of bristles children’s toothbrushes need more frequent replacement than adults.
Cleaning the toothbrush
There are many products in the market that claim to sanitize and kill all the bacteria on the toothbrush. There are antibacterial rinses, UV (ultraviolet) Light Sanitizers, and even antibacterial bristles are found on some toothbrushes. Studies have shown that some of these products do kill bacteria, but there is not a single study that also shows using any toothbrush sanitizer will reduce your risk of getting sick.
Your mouth is a home for millions of bacteria, but not all of these are pathogenic. Many germs are not harmful. No matter how much you try but you toothbrush is never going to be completely free from germs so you don’t necessarily need to buy specific products to disinfect it.
There are some methods to clean the tooth brush without making a hole in your pocket like, soaking it in an anti-bacterial mouthwash, boiling or freezing it. Putting it in a dishwasher is also a way of cleaning your brush without buying any specialized product.
But before you start boiling water or freezing the toothbrush, there are a few things you should know about disinfection. Some cleaning methods, including use of a dishwasher or microwave oven, could damage the brush. Manufacturers may not have designed their products to withstand these conditions. The cleaning effectiveness of the brush might be decreased if it is damaged.
Consumers that choose to use these cleaning devices should inspect the brush regularly for wear and consider replacement more often if necessary.