Cleaning before You Clean: What’s on your Toothbrush?

According to Maria L. Geisinger, a professor of periodontology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Dentistry, toothbrush storage and care are necessary to ensure that we achieve excellent oral health and we maximize plaque removal. There are hundreds of different classes of microorganisms in the oral cavity, and these can be transferred to the toothbrush while in contact. Furthermore, given that toothbrushes are usually stored in the bathroom, they are exposed to microorganisms present in the gastrointestinal tract through the fecal-oral route.

Here are some questions regarding the bacteria present in your toothbrush.

Can bacteria from the toilet end up in the toothbrush?

Yes. Enteric bacteria occur in the intestines, and end up being transferred to toothbrushes, meaning that they will likely be in your mouth when you use it. The transfer could happen especially if the individual does not hand wash well, or even with the microscopic drops that are released when flushing the toilet.

How should toothbrushes be cleaned to prevent such bacteria?

According to the American Dental Association, covering your toothbrush or keeping them in a closed container is not recommended, as this prevents the tooth brush from drying quickly, and microorganisms like their environment damp. Another recommendation is to keep them upright to allow them to air dry. If there is more than one tooth brush in a container, ensure to keep them separate to avoid contamination.

What if I get sick, can I still follow the same protocol?

As long as economically feasible, it is advisable that the toothbrush be replaced once you are free from sickness. There are illnesses and bacteria that are transferred using body fluids, and are likely to stick around even after you’ve healed.

How often should the toothbrush be replaced?

They should be replaced with new ones every 3 months, or when the bristles are frayed and worn out – whichever comes first.

To prevent having bacteria on your toothbrush, consider doing the following as well:

Use an antimicrobial mouth wash before brushing your teeth

This helps decrease the amount of bacteria in the mouth, therefore reducing the bacteria that can be transferred on the toothbrush as well

Prioritize dental care

Routine dental cleanings also help reduce bacteria in the mouth. Furthermore, they help protect against gum diseases, protecting the bloodstream from the bacteria that could have entered through the infected gums.

Frequent hand wash

Regardless if the restroom was used or not, always ensure to wash your hands especially before using your toothbrush. This reduces the likelihood of fecal-oral contamination.

Use your own toothbrush

Many already observe this, but there are some couples who share one toothbrush. This doubles the chances, the sources and the risks that bacteria have when it comes to contaminating your toothbrush.

To ensure that your oral health is always in tip-top shape, contact Greenspoint Dental to schedule an appointment. Our experienced team of dentists is knowledgeable in several fields and would love to work with you. Call us today.