Many of us have asked ourselves, “should I replace my toothbrush after being sick?” The answer is yes! A new study finds that your toothbrush can be a potent incubator for bacteria. This means you should disinfect it on a regular basis to prevent spreading the illness and reinfecting yourself. We’ll review what we know about the risks of reusing your toothbrush and offer tips for keeping it clean.
Keep Your Toothbrush Clean
One of the best ways to prevent tooth decay and gum disease is by brushing your teeth properly twice a day. The problem starts when you’re not doing it correctly or long enough, which can lead to bad breath and get bacteria trapped in hard-to-reach places on your toothbrush head that are difficult to clean with just water—like between bristles. When this happens, germs from these locations will be transferred onto your next brush stroke and into your mouth! So make sure you use abrasive materials like dental floss (or an old pair of tights) around the head of the toothbrush after every few days for thorough cleaning if you have had no illness symptoms – but wait until at least a week after your illness or you might end up reinfecting yourself.
The Importance of Disinfecting Your Toothbrush.
The study found that toothbrushes are perfect incubators for bacteria, with the average brush having around 100 million particles! As such, it’s important to properly disinfect them on a regular basis to help prevent spreading and re-initiating an infection once you have been sick. We recommend using hydrogen peroxide (ideally diluted) as this is both safe and effective against all types of germs; leave it on for two minutes before rinsing thoroughly with water and leaving dry overnight so any leftover moisture evaporates out (don’t put in dishwasher). If you’re feeling particularly brave, try boiling your toothbrush in a pot of water on the stove for three to five minutes.
How Do You Disinfect a Toothbrush?
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Should You Throw Away Your Toothbrush After Being Sick?
In the event that you have been diagnosed with a contagious illness, it is important to disinfect your toothbrush and not share. The best way to do this is by soaking in hydrogen peroxide overnight or boiling for three-five minutes on the stove (don’t put it in the dishwasher).
If you want to replace your toothbrush altogether when being sick, keep these points in mind:
- Make sure the bristles are well-shaped as they can affect how clean of an area will be cleaned; be careful of sharp bends which allow more bacteria than usual to accumulate there!
- Investing in a good-quality toothbrush may prolong its lifetime. Cheaper brushes tend not to last long and lose their shape quickly after repeated use – and their bristles can’t be replaced!
- Look for a toothbrush with longer, more flexible bristles that are helpful in reaching hard-to-clean places.
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Don’t forget – always replace your toothbrush after being sick because it’s quite common for bacteria and other germs to grow on damp brushes when they’re left out of the package too long (upwards of 100 million particles!), which makes it easy to re-infect yourself if you don’t disinfect properly every few days. This should go without saying but we’ll say it anyway: never share your brush with another person, even if only for a tooth or two.
What Should You Do?
Several health practitioners say that disinfecting your brush may be difficult to do without any negative side effects. The CDC states, “soaking toothbrushes in a disinfecting solution (e.g., mouthwash) can lead to cross-contamination if you use the same solution for too long or if more than one person uses the solution,” which is why they recommend waiting at least 10 minutes after brushing and then shaking the bristles from side-to-side over a bowl of water before putting sanitizing liquid on them–this technique should kill 99% of most germs found on an average toothbrush.
Here are some general recommendations according to the American Dental Association (ADA) for keeping your toothbrush as germ-free as possible:
- Avoid sharing toothbrushes or toothpaste. Giving everyone their own brush and paste will help prevent the spread of germs.
- Once your toothbrush has been rinsed, replace the brush head if it was used for the last time.
- Don’t leave your toothbrush in a disinfectant or mouthwash solution. This can actually lead to the spread of germs
- Allow your toothbrush to air dry. After rinsing your toothbrush, store it upright in a holder to allow the brush hairs and bristles to dry out. Avoid covering or storing your brush in an open container such as a cup that could become moist. This provides too much moisture for bacteria to grow, which can create severe mouth health issues such as bad breath and gum disease
- Keep your toothbrush clean and replace it. Replace the toothbrush every few months or sooner if the bristles fray.