If you are among those who pay close attention to oral hygiene and visit your dentist often, give yourself a hearty round of applause. However, do you know whether you have been replacing your toothbrushes as frequently as you should?
This is actually a task that is quite commonly neglected by far too many. If the bristles on your toothbrush have become outwardly splayed and twisted, you need to retire your existing brush and get yourself a replacement that is crisp and clean.
It is always wise to replace your toothbrush after a bout of illness. It also makes good sense to follow a strict toothbrush replacement schedule if you suffer from a compromised immune system or a chronic condition such as diabetes.
The reason regular replacement is so important has to do with the overly friendly environment toothbrushes create for bacteria. Studies suggest that a single toothbrush can play host to upwards of 100 million bacteria at a time. Such bacteria can cause a multitude of unpleasant maladies ranging from intestinal distress to unsightly skin eruptions.
Nobody wants to contemplate the nauseating prospect such staggering numbers present. However, the truth is that everyone’s mouth contains several million bacteria at any given moment. Each time someone brushes their teeth they are able to eliminate a decent amount of bacteria, but certainly not all. Fortunately, the fact is that despite the prevalence of bacteria on toothbrushes, few individuals will actually get sick simply because they gave their teeth a twice-daily scrub. Keeping your toothbrush clean is actually quite easy to do and is a habit everyone should acquire.
Some of the best methods of maintaining a hygienic toothbrush include:
- Always making sure to rinse completely with tap water after every use in order to rid the brush of food debris
- Being certain to shake excess water out of the brush after rinsing it
- Storing your toothbrush in an upright position to promote air circulation and to prevent bacteria growth
- Avoiding toothbrush covers that tend to trap moisture in the bristles
- Making sure that nobody else uses your toothbrush or allows their germs to reach your brush
- Keeping your toothbrush stored as far as possible from the toilet in order to avoid the inevitable spray of bacteria that results from every flush
- Making sure the toilet seat is down prior to flushing in order to prevent germs from dispersing into the air
Do any other toothbrush cleaning techniques exist?
Several commercial toothbrush sanitisers are available that employ strategies such as rinsing, spraying and exposing brushes to ultraviolet light in order to eliminate bacteria. Products of this type likely do succeed in killing bacteria, but it remains unclear as to whether they actually prevent illness.
Microwaving toothbrushes and running them through a dishwasher cycle are two additional methods frequently employed by those interested in sanitising their brushes. However, such methods actually tend to damage the toothbrush and make it less able to eliminate bacteria.
The bottom line is that as long as you store your toothbrushes properly, are the only person to use them and purchase replacements often, you are unlikely to encounter any serious problems.