Brushing your teeth is your main line of defense against the threat of tooth decay. People have even invented games in order to get people to brush for the recommended two minutes. Brushing is clearly a better alternative to letting your teeth decay, but is it conceivable that you could actually put yourself in harm’s way by using your toothbrush? Think about the last time you bought a toothbrush. Typically on the packaging there is a little recommendation to replace your brush every time you are sick. Is this entirely necessary? Well, it largely depends.
What Kind of Illness Was It?
With flu season peaking later than usual this year it is understandable to be concerned about bacteria lingering on your toothbrush, but don’t throw it out quite yet. The American Dental Association states on their website, “Although there is insufficient clinical evidence to support that bacterial growth on toothbrushes will lead to specific adverse oral or systemic health effects, a common-sense approach is recommended for situations where patients may be at higher risk to infection or re-infection by various microbes.” If you have already been sick from a cold or flu, it is highly unlikely that you will catch that same virus from your toothbrush. However, you can get sick if you use someone else’s toothbrush and they previously used it while they were sick. You can even if your toothbrush comes in contact with their contaminated brush.
Should You Replace Your Toothbrush?
The fact is, the ADA states that you should replace your toothbrush every three to four months. This will significantly cut down on the level of bacteria present on your toothbrush. Rinsing your mouth out with mouthwash before brushing, or cleaning your toothbrush with mouthwash after you brush will also cut down on the level of bacteria present on your brush. The ADA recommends that you replace your toothbrush as soon as possible if your bristles have become frayed.
What Not to Do
There are some cleaning methods that the ADA does not recommend, such as using a dishwasher or microwave, which may actually damage the toothbrush and loosen the bristles. Additionally, sealed toothbrush containers actually increase the amount of bacteria present on your brush, as they are the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive and multiply. If you do plan to store your toothbrush in your bathroom insure that it is dried after use, and away from other brushes and the toilet.
Brushing is Not Enough
The fact is, brushing alone is not enough to protect your teeth and gums from decay and infection. Regularly visiting a dentist is the best way to not only keep your teeth clean, but to also catch any issues that may arise before they become serious. If you live in the Austin area and are looking for a great dentist that you can trust, please consider visiting Dr. Matthews at Dan Matthews, DDS. Give us a call at (512) 520-0606 to schedule an appointment today.