Discover How Your Toothbrush Could Be Making You Sick!
Just about everyone knows that you should change the oil in your car’s engine approximately every 3 months or 6,000 KMs, but how many of us recognize the importance of appropriate toothbrush care & maintenance to help prevent the spread of bacteria, germs and viruses?
Did you know that under normal conditions, you should replace your toothbrushes every three months because they can harbour bacteria that can cause infection such as gingivitis and periodontitis. Moreover, toothbrushes stored in the warm, steamy environment of a bathroom (one of the most contaminated areas of the home) can harbour germs that can prolong sore throats and oral infections.
During the normal life-cycle of your toothbrush, soaking it in an anti-microbial mouthwash or a mixture of 3% hydrogen-peroxide and 97% water for at least 30 minutes after use can help to prevent the spread of germs and bacteria while cleaning the brush. Although toothbrush sanitizers have become very popular, to date there is no conclusive evidence that they are more effective at fighting germs on your toothbrush.
A study at Creighton University School of Dentistry concluded that immersing the toothbrush in an antibacterial mouthwash was just as efficient in keeping bacteria off your toothbrush. Remember, everyone should have their own toothbrush. Never share toothbrushes because sharing toothbrushes could result in an exchange of body fluids and/or microorganisms creating an increased risk for infections.
If someone in your household is suffering from a cold or flu, remember to add a few new toothbrushes to your shopping list when you load up on cough medicine, cold remedies or sinus pills. When you’re ill, it’s likely that your toothbrush will show signs of the infecting organism.
Germs left on your toothbrush can cause reoccurring colds and sore throats. To avoid catching the same cold over and over again, change your toothbrush at the first sign of a cold and change it again as soon as you regain your health.
Previous studies have shown everything from candid albicans (a yeast like infection) to herpes simplex virus (cold sores) alive and well on toothbrushes as long as seven days after use, even within bristles themselves. This means the chances of re-infecting yourself are pretty good, especially if you’re accustomed to brushing vigorously because small abrasions on the inner cheeks and gums can allow new access for viruses.
Finally, if the bristles on your toothbrush begin to look frayed, its time to toss the brush because ragged bristles can’t effectively fight plaque, and bent bristles can even damage the soft gum tissue surrounding teeth. When selecting a new toothbrush, look for the CDA seal of approval and opt for soft bristles as opposed to the hard ones that can damage teeth and gums.
Yours for better dental health,
Dr. Russell Grover