With yet another study declaring that staph, yeasts, intestinal bacteria, pseudomonads and even feces are present on many toothbrushes, itís hard not to shudder in disgust. Since giving up on brushing altogether isnít an option, here are several tips for keeping your toothbrush as clean as possible:
1. Use Mouthwash Before You Brush
Mouthwash doesnít just keep your mouth clean, it can also get rid of germs that would otherwise wind up on your brush. By gargling and subsequently spitting out mouthwash before the brushing process, youíre helping to eliminate bacteria from your mouth before it makes contact with your brush. The more you clean out your mouth in advance, the less that germs are able to cling to the brush.
2. Rinse Toothbrush After Brushing
Itís not enough to give the brush a ceremonial tap. Run the brush underneath tap water and run your fingers (provided they have been freshly washed with soap!) through to remove any remaining toothpaste and food particles. Be sure to allow it to dry fully before its next use, as well.
3. Get Rid of the Communal Toothbrush Holder
That storage device that conveniently keeps all of your familyís brushes in one spot is grosser than youíd imagine. By housing brushes just centimeters apart, a toothbrush holder is a recipe for spreading germs. Since contact between brushes is inevitable, cross-contamination is a near certainty and suddenly those germs have moved from one brush to another.
4. Donít Keep It in Your Medicine Cabinet, Either
Because microorganisms multiply more easily in cool, damp and dark areas, the bathroom medicine cabinet is far from the ideal spot to store your toothbrush. The cabinetís heightened moisture is enough to spread germs to an unhealthy extent. Itís best to leave your brush out in an open area so that the bacteria doesnít fester.
5. You Know What? Donít Put Leave It in the Bathroom Period
Are you putting fecal matter into your mouth? Thereís a good possibility of it if your toothbrush is kept in your bathroom. Between unwashed hands and microorganisms floating into the air following toilet flushes, itís only fair to assume that traces of poop are all over your bathroom.
Your best option is to keep your brush in another room of the house that is less susceptible to germs. Itís definitely a mild inconvenience to carry your toothbrush to and from your bedroomís dresser top, but itís worth it for the piece of mind that poop isnít inadvertently winding up on your brush.
6. Get Another Brush After Youíve Been Sick
It generally takes longer for your toothbrush to ďget betterĒ than your own body. Indeed, the brush you used to clean your teeth during your period of illness will cling to the bristles even after youíve recovered.
Rather than reintroducing the harmful bacteria back into your body, minimize risk of re-infection by replacing your brush after youíve been sick.
7. Even When Healthy, Get Another Brush Every Few Months
The American Dental Association recommends replacing brushes every three or four months. Not only do bristles get worn down and become increasingly useless, but bacteria accumulates on the brush, compounding into a germy mess.