Should you run your toothbrush through the dishwasher? Soak it in hydrogen peroxide? Store it in a container? You know it’s important to keep your toothbrush clean, but there’s a lot of confusion about the best ways to do it. To help you make the right choices and keep bacteria off your brush (and out of your mouth), Dr. Hamby, a leading Fuquay Varina dentist, is sharing tips on how to keep your toothbrush clean and store it properly.
How to Clean Your Toothbrush
Brushing your teeth picks up food debris, bits of leftover toothpaste, and bacteria, all of which can create an unhealthy environment, especially if the toothbrush isn’t cleaned in between uses. Fortunately, it’s almost effortless to clean a toothbrush as all you need to do is rinse your brush in hot water for a few seconds to remove any solid particles after you use it, then give it another hot water rinse before using it again.
While some people think it’s necessary to soak the brush in mouthwash or denture cleaner, run it through the dishwasher, or invest in a UV light cleaner, it’s actually not. Most of the bacteria that will inhabit your toothbrush are anaerobic, meaning they don’t survive after being exposed to oxygen, so as long as the brush dries completely between uses, the majority of the bacteria will die off. Plus, there are concerns that UV lights, dishwashers, and other methods may damage the bristles.
If you are genuinely concerned about the cleanliness of your toothbrush and want to disinfect it, the best option is to mix a teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide into a cup of water and let the brush soak for up to 15 minutes.
How to Store Your Toothbrush Between Uses
In addition to cleaning your toothbrush, how you store it in between uses is key to limiting bacteria exposure and keeping your brush clean. While some believe it’s necessary to shield it from airborne bacteria by placing it in a drawer, cabinet, or airtight container, this will increase the bacteria on your toothbrush. Bacteria thrive in dark, damp areas, including storing a wet brush in an enclosed space.
Instead, the best option is to store your toothbrush in a toothbrush holder or cup in an upright position out in the open. This allows plenty of airflow around your brush to keep dry it off more quickly. However, we do recommend keeping it at least three feet from a toilet if possible to prevent any aerosol bacteria from getting on the brush.
Traveling with Your Toothbrush
We understand that traveling limits how you store your brush, but there are still ways to keep it clean while you’re on the go. First, don’t put it in a plastic bag because this cuts off all airflow and lets bacteria flourish. Instead, make sure your brush is rinsed, then shake as much moisture off of it as possible before storing it in a travel case (if you can’t let it dry completely). Find one that has ventilation holes to keep air moving in and out for the best results.
When You Should Get a New Toothbrush
We typically recommend you replace your toothbrush every three months. However, you’ll want to replace it sooner if you get sick with a cold, flu, stomach bug, or other illness. This will keep you from getting sick a second time from your brush. Also, be sure to get a new brush if the bristles are bent, worn, or frayed as this can damage your gums and not be effective at clearing away plaque.
Schedule an Appointment with Our Fuquay Varina Dentist Today
Brushing and flossing are necessary aspects of keeping your teeth clean and healthy, but so are getting regular checkups and professional teeth cleanings. If it’s been longer than six months, you’ve experienced dental pain, or you’re simply in need of a new family dentist, give us a call at 919-552-2431 or fill out the form below to schedule an appointment.