Toothbrushes play a vital role in keeping you healthy. Not only do they help clean your teeth and gums, but they also remove potentially harmful bacteria and other debris from your mouth.
But in the process of getting those germs out of your mouth, toothbrushes can hold onto those germs if they’re not properly sanitized. And if you don’t clean your toothbrush fully, you could be putting yourself at risk for infection or other problems.
How To Clean Your Toothbrush
If you only run your toothbrush under tap water before and after each use, that’s not enough.
However, rinsing your toothbrush under hot water for 30 seconds can help kill germs if your faucet can get hot enough to produce steam.
A better option for most people will be to soak the bristles in an antibacterial mouthwash or 100% white vinegar for 20-30 minutes. This will help to disinfect the toothbrush and remove any residue that might be clinging to it.
You can also buy toothbrush sanitizers that use ultraviolet light to kill germs, but these can be expensive gadgets, and the CDC advises that dishwashers, microwaves, and UV devices are unnecessary and might damage the toothbrush.
Also, wash your hands thoroughly before brushing your teeth to avoid transferring bacteria to your mouth. And frequently sanitize all nearby surfaces and holders that may come in contact with you or your toothbrush.
Keeping Your Toothbrush Clean
In between uses, store your toothbrush one meter away from the toilet (or in a different room if possible), and always close the toilet lid before flushing.
You should also avoid sharing your toothbrush with anyone else, even if they’re family members. It’s also best to store toothbrushes in separate holders to avoid cross-contamination.
It’s generally recommended that you avoid using a toothbrush cap and storing your toothbrush in closed containers because they provide an environment conducive to bacteria growth.
How Often You Should Replace Your Toothbrush
The more frequently you change out your toothbrushes, the better.
The CDC and other health organizations typically recommend getting a new toothbrush every 3 to 4 months, but researchers have shown that changing your toothbrush at least once a month is the best way to stay safe.
While this might sound like a lot, toothbrushes are relatively inexpensive, so it’s not a huge financial burden to replace them often, especially considering the potential consequences of not changing them out.
If you have questions or concerns about your oral health, talk to your dentist.