When we brush our teeth, we’re doing it to remove germs, food particles, and bacteria. It’s one of the most important steps towards a healthy smile. But what would you say if we told you that you may be cleaning your mouth with a not-so-clean device? At my Lakeland dental office, we know some scary stuff can live on toothbrushes. And although they’re incredibly gross, we want to make sure you’re aware of what can be lurking on your bristles, and how to reduce your risk of them.
E. Coli (Warning, this is really disturbing, but also really important)
Most of us keep our toothbrushes in the bathroom, because, well that’s where we brush our teeth. But we also do other things in the bathroom that can influence the cleanliness of your toothbrush. For example, if you store your toothbrush in an open area within five or six feet of your toilet, there’s a chance there may be some fecal matter particles on your toothbrush (we told you it was gross). Fecal matter can contain dangerous bacteria like E. Coli, and if ingested it could make you really sick.
What in the world is that, you ask? Well, it’s super-technical name for the bacteria that causes tooth decay, so it’s not really a surprise that it’d be on your toothbrush. However, it’s still pretty disgusting to think about, not to mention potentially counterproductive. If we brush our teeth to remove bacteria like Streptococcus Mutans, yet allow it to stay on our toothbrushes post-brushing, the next time we try to clean our mouths, we’re technically putting the bacteria right back in.
Toothbrush Care Tips
Help keep your toothbrush clean by following these tips.
- Rinse, Replace, Repeat. Thoroughly rinsing your brush every time you’re done brushing helps rinse away harmful germs and bacteria, keeping your brush clean and ready to do its job. Replacing your toothbrush every three to four months also helps decrease the risk of gross stuff piling on.
- Don’t Share. Sharing toothbrushes with another person or even allowing them to touch during storage can allow germs to be transferred from one person to another. This can lead to infection or make someone get sick.
- Store it Safely. Keeping your brush upright in a clean, dry location is ideal for reducing the chance of bacteria living on your bristles. It’s not recommended to keep a toothbrush in a sealed container or cover the bristles with a cap. Enclosing your toothbrush while it’s still damp creates a moist environment, and bacteria thrive in moisture.
At my Lakeland dental office, we’re here to keep our patients healthy — not just their mouths, but their whole bodies. Following the tips above can help reduce your risk of some serious whole-body disease, and give you a healthy smile.