It’s no secret that brushing your teeth regularly can have a huge impact on your overall oral health. Every good dentist will tell you that. But did you know that you’re also supposed to clean your toothbrush on a regular basis? Not only that, but it’s important to clean it properly to get the biggest benefit. Here, we break down the ins and outs of how to properly clean your toothbrush so it is sanitary and ready to go at all times.
The Importance Of A Clean Toothbrush
It’s easy for us to get focused on the act of brushing our teeth and forget all about the cleanliness of the toothbrush that’s going into our mouths. Your toothbrush is a fertile breeding ground for a variety of different viruses and bacteria, and while it’s normal to have a certain number of bacteria in your mouth, you want to keep your toothbrush as clean as possible. Basically, your overall health will benefit from having a clean toothbrush, and it could possibly suffer from having a dirty one. And if you’re wondering ‘how often I should clean my toothbrush’? As often as possible is best, but at the very least, once a week.
How To Properly Clean Your Toothbrush: Tips & Techniques
Simply knowing that you need to keep your toothbrush clean is a good first step, but it’s also important to know how to make it happen. Here are some proven toothbrush cleaning tips and techniques you can use to keep your brush as clean as you possibly can.
Run it under hot water
Perhaps the easiest way to sanitize your toothbrush is to run it under hot water for several seconds before and after every use. Running it under hot water helps remove bacteria that may have collected on the bristles since the last time you brushed your teeth. Just get the water from your faucet nice and hot, and then run the head of your toothbrush under the water before applying toothpaste.
Soak the bristles in mouthwash
Soaking your toothbrush in antibacterial mouthwash is another way to keep it clean and free from any unwanted germs and bacteria. To do this, place the head of your toothbrush bristles down into a small cup of mouthwash for a couple of minutes after each time you brush. If you choose this method, your toothbrush may wear out faster, so it’s important to keep a close eye on the state of your bristles and replace them when needed.
Let the toothbrush dry completely
Most of the bacteria living on your toothbrush after you use it are considered to be anaerobic, which means they will die off in the presence of oxygen. Letting your toothbrush air dry will help remove a lot of the bacteria you don’t want in your mouth the next time you brush.
Store the toothbrush correctly
Proper storage is another component of keeping your toothbrush clean and sanitary at all times. The key is to store the toothbrush in an open-air holder, not in a drawer, travel case, or a dirty cup. The last thing you want is to promote the growth of mold or bacteria that are not natural to your mouth. It’s also a good idea not to make a habit of covering your toothbrush when it’s not in use because you may encourage unwanted bacteria and germs.
Should You Share Your Toothbrush? NO!
While talking about keeping your toothbrush clean, we would be remiss if we did not mention the topic of sharing toothbrushes. A good rule of thumb is to NOT share your toothbrush with others, to avoid many issues that can affect your oral health. It’s important to keep in mind that the bacteria in your mouth and digestive system are specific to you, so introducing new bacteria to your mouth from another person can cause problems. One particular type of bacteria that can result when sharing toothbrushes is called streptococcus mutans, which can lead to a host of different issues.
Sharing a toothbrush can also lead to periodontal disease, which causes gum recession, gum pain, bleeding, tooth loss, bone loss, and more. Using the toothbrush of someone who already has gum disease may increase your likelihood of gingivitis, which is another reason why it’s best not to share. Catching viruses like cold or flu is another potential risk of sharing a toothbrush, as is the possibility of being exposed to cold sores and similar problems. All these pathogens can transfer easily when sharing a toothbrush.
If, for some reason, you can’t avoid using someone else’s toothbrush, take the time to clean it thoroughly beforehand by using the tips listed above. If you’re not sure about the health of the other person, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, and missing one brushing won’t end up causing you a lot of damage, whereas sharing someone else’s toothbrush may.
Replacing Your Toothbrush
Using tried and tested toothbrush cleaning techniques is great, but that doesn’t mean your toothbrush is going to last forever. If you notice any damage to the bristles or they don’t feel like they’re doing as good a job as they did when the toothbrush was new, replace the brush just to be safe. Even if you don’t notice any differences, it’s still a good idea to replace your toothbrush every three to four months, as a general rule.
Here are some specific times when replacing your toothbrush is the best course of action:
- The toothbrush bristles have worn out and look bent or frayed
- Someone in your household that shares a bathroom with you has been sick with a contagious virus or disease
- Someone else has used your toothbrush
Keeping your toothbrush as clean as possible creates the best scenario for maintaining pristine oral health. The last thing you want is to take all the right actions and follow all the suggested guidelines when it comes to brushing technique and frequency, only to introduce germs and bacteria because you didn’t keep your toothbrush as clean as you should have. It doesn’t take a lot of extra time to clean your toothbrush properly, and it’s absolutely worth your while to add these basic cleaning steps to your oral health routine.