How Clean is Your Toothbrush?

Have you ever wondered what lurks on your toothbrush? While you may not want to think about it, your toothbrush can contain over 700 known types of bacteria. Researchers have found that an uncovered toothbrush can harbor over 100 million bacteria, including E. coli, which can cause staph infection and diarrhea. If all of this sounds horrible don’t worry, your mouth wasn’t that clean to begin with.

A Mouthful

Even the healthiest of mouths still contain hundreds of different microorganisms that total up to the hundreds of millions. A problem starts to occur, however, when there becomes an unhealthy balance in the number of bacteria in the mouth. Plaque, the sticky substance that eats away at your teeth’s enamel, is a type of bacteria, and when excess plaque builds up in the mouth from not brushing regularly it can cause tooth decay.

When it comes to the germs we get from our toothbrushes, our body’s natural defenses make it very unlikely we will catch an infection solely from brushing. Researchers do not currently have any evidence that suggests leaving your toothbrush out in a bathroom holder can cause any significant damage or that the bacteria found on the brush can cause an infection.

However, it doesn’t hurt to stay cautious, especially if you leave your toothbrush sitting near the toilet.

Brush and Flush Separately

In many homes and apartments the bathrooms rank on the small side, leaving the toilet sitting not too far away from the sink. The same area most people tend to keep their brush.

Whenever you flush the toilet a plume of bacteria hits the air. Considering what could happen if your brush sits too close to the toilet, you may want to reconsider where you store it. After all, you don’t store your dishes nearly the toilet for a very similar reason.

Proper Storage Tips

Once you have moved your brush away from the toilet, here are a few other tips that will help keep your brush as germ-free as possible.

• Keep it clean. Make sure to thoroughly rinse your brush with tap water before and after each time you use it.
• Keep it dry. The type of environment most conducive to the growth of bacteria is a wet one. Make sure you give your brush enough time to dry between uses, and don’t use toothbrush covers, as those provide bacteria a nice breeding ground in which to multiply.
• Keep it up. Store your brush upright instead of laying on its side.
• Don’t share. No matter if it’s your wife, girlfriend, child, or roommate, don’t ever share a toothbrush with anyone else. You shouldn’t even store your brush next to someone else’s since whenever brushes touch, they can swap germs.

When to Get a New Brush

The best way to limit the amount of bacteria on your brush is to replace it on a regular basis.

The American Dental Association recommends getting rid of your brush every three to four months, or whenever the bristles start to become frayed. If you find yourself frequently getting sick or if you have a weak immune system, consider replacing your brush more frequently.

To combat the bacteria already in your mouth, you need to continue to brush and floss your teeth on a daily basis. Each time your neglect brushing your teeth, you allow even more bacteria buildup in your mouth. Considering the number of bacteria already in your mouth, brushing daily is imperative to keep that number balanced, and your mouth healthy.