You use your toothbrush every day (hopefully twice a day!) to scrub your teeth and tongue. Although your mouth is cleaner after a good brushing, your toothbrush now holds the germs and bacteria from your mouth. Plus, you most likely keep it in the bathroom, where additional bacteria may linger in the air.
In today’s blog post, let’s look at how to best take care of your toothbrush, including ways to disinfect it after brushing and how often to replace it.
There are several options for cleaning your toothbrush. Most people simply run hot water over the bristles before and after each use. This approach gets rid of any remaining bacteria as well as bacteria that may have showed up in the hours in between brushing. To ensure the water is sanitizing your toothbrush, it should be hot enough to produce steam.
There’s no reason to boil your toothbrush to get it clean. You run the risk of melting the plastic toothbrush handle too! If you feel like boiling water is necessary, heat the water in a tea kettle or pot on your stove. After it begins to boil, turn off the heat and dip your toothbrush in for just 30 seconds.
If you feel like hot water isn’t doing the trick, you can soak your toothbrush in antibacterial mouthwash. Although this method of care is effective, it may wear out your bristles faster. For a proper soak, let your toothbrush sit, head down, in a small cup of mouthwash for about two minutes after brushing.
Another option for disinfecting your toothbrush is using a denture cleanser. This solution is made up of antimicrobial ingredients that specifically target plaque and bacteria that grow in the mouth. Never reuse a cleaner that you’ve already used on your dentures though. Instead, dissolve half a tablet in a cup of water and dip your toothbrush in for 90 seconds or so.
If none of these suggestions feel like a good fit for you, you can invest in an ultraviolet (UV) light sanitizer chamber made specifically for toothbrushes. While the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not say you need a UV chamber to disinfect your toothbrush, a clinical study found that it was the most effective cleaning option.
After cleaning your toothbrush, it’s equally important to store it correctly.
To start, be sure to store it upright and alone. Avoid storing it in a cup with other toothbrushes, as this closeness may lead to cross contamination among the bristles. Keep all toothbrushes as far away from the toilet as possible (and in a medicine cabinet if possible).
Be sure to clean your toothbrush holder and covers every two weeks, as bacteria from your toothbrush can transfer to these surfaces as well. If you choose to cover your toothbrush in between brushing, let it completely dry first. Covering a wet toothbrush may lead to more bacteria growth!
Sometimes, the best way to make sure you have a clean toothbrush is to replace it.
You should replace your toothbrush or toothbrush head every three to four months no matter what. Additionally, grab a new one in the following circumstances:
- The bristles are bent or frayed.
- Someone in your home is sick with a contagious illness, like the flu or strep throat.
- You shared your toothbrush. Everyone’s mouth flora is unique, and there’s no way to completely disinfect a toothbrush used by someone else.
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