After deliberating over the angles and the softness of toothbrush bristles, or learning the correct brushing technique, it would be a terrible irony if you are using an unclean toothbrush to ‘clean’ your teeth.
Expecting your toothbrush to be absolutely germ-free would be taking it too far and crossing over into germophobic territory. Toothbrushes are not sterile even when they are brand new. But you should take care that you maintain your toothbrush in a reasonably clean and hygienic state.
Cleaning the Toothbrush
Clean your toothbrush before and after every use.
Wash the toothbrush thoroughly under running tap water.
Rub the bristles with your thumb to remove any remnants of toothpaste, dust, or any other contaminant.
Tap or flick the brush to remove excess water and let it air dry.
Storing the Toothbrush
The toothbrush should be kept in an upright position in an open container so as to let the excess water drain out. If multiple toothbrushes are stored in the same container, the toothbrush heads should not touch each other.
The storage area should be dry and airy. It is not a good idea to store the toothbrush in small closed cabinets as they provide a moist, dark environment that encourages the growth of microorganisms on the brush.
If you are using a cover for the toothbrush head, you must ensure that the cover is designed in such a way that the bristles can air dry easily.
The toothbrush should be kept away from the toilet. This is because flushing the toilet can cause faecal particles to be airborne and spread up to a distance of about 6 feet. It is also a good practice to keep the lid of the toilet closed while flushing.
While traveling, if you are using a case to store your toothbrush, make sure the toothbrush is completely dry before packing. Don’t keep the toothbrush inside the luggage for a long time. When you unpack, keep the toothbrush in an open and dry area.
Sharing is Not Always Caring
Sharing toothbrushes even amongst partners or family members is not recommended. It may cause transmission of disease-causing microorganisms, including the ones that cause dental decay.
Replacing Your Toothbrush
You should replace your toothbrush after 3 to 4 months or when the bristles are frayed, whichever is less. Toothbrushes should also be changed after you have recovered from an illness because the microorganisms can survive on the brush and cause a reinfection.
Various methods like dipping the toothbrush in a mouthwash and denture cleanser, and UV (Ultraviolet) light, are used to disinfect toothbrushes. These may in fact damage the bristles and you may have to throw out the toothbrush much earlier.
To conclude, there is no need to be obsessed with your toothbrush hygiene as long as practical and reasonable cleanliness is maintained.
Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.