Is Your Toothbrush Making You Sick?
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Is Your Toothbrush Making You Sick?

Millions of bacteria and other living microorganisms are in your mouth. A report by Colgate suggests that over 700 strains of bacteria have been found in the human mouth. However, most people often have 34 – 70 strains of these bacteria. Some of these bacteria fight certain harmful bacteria, protecting your teeth and gums against tooth decay, gum disease, and other infections. Other bacteria act like probiotics, which are beneficial in digestion.

However, some of the bacteria in the mouth are harmful. Below are the two most common types of harmful bacteria in your mouth:

  • Streptococcus mutans: This bacteria is actively in the mouth and feeds on the starches and sugars we eat. These bacteria can overgrow and produce harmful acids that erode the teeth’ enamel, causing tooth decay.
  • Porphyromonas gingivalis: This bacteria isn’t in a healthy mouth. It’s commonly associated with gum disease or periodontitis.

Visit our emergency dental clinic for dental treatments to help manage dental decay or gum disease caused by these and other bacteria.

Can your toothbrush make you sick?

As we’ve learned above, your mouth contains millions of harmful and good bacteria. For this reason, the toothbrush you use to clean your mouth could also be a hub for bacteria. The bacteria and other organisms outside your mouth can get into the toothbrush in various ways. The ADA also confirms that your toothbrushes can harbour bacteria. Fortunately, your immune system can help fight bacteria, germs, and other microorganisms on the toothbrush that could make you sick.

Below are several ways that your toothbrush can make you ill:

  • The toothbrush can cause reinfection.

While you may have heard that you should replace a toothbrush after the flu or cold, that may only be necessary in some cases.  In some illnesses, your immune system will have already developed the necessary defense to prevent re-infection. However, the toothbrush can cause reinfections in other cases. For instance, if you have strep and the bacteria colonizes your toothbrush, you can get strep again. Contact our dentist near you if you need help choosing a toothbrush and other oral products.

  • Storing your toothbrush in the bathroom

Bathrooms are moist, making them breeding grounds for bacteria and other microorganisms. Therefore, storing a wet toothbrush in the bathroom uncovered and near sinks makes them vulnerable to bacterial colonization.

  • Flushing the toilet

Most bathrooms are small, meaning the toilet is very close to where you brush. Every time you flush the toilet, you spray bacteria into the air. Fecal coliform is a bacteria released in the air when the toilet is flushed. For this reason, it’s essential to keep brushes far away from the toilet. Since flushing can also pass bacteria to your hands, close the toilet lid when flushing and wash your hands after.

Cleaning your toothbrush

Running water over your toothbrush may not be enough to remove all bacteria and debris in your toothbrush. Bacteria can collect in a toothbrush, causing infections. The risk of bacteria buildup in the brush is higher if the toothbrush is worn or ragged. Use the tips below to prevent a germy toothbrush:

  • Wash hands before and after brushing
  • Rinse the toothbrush thoroughly with hot water after every use
  • Do not share or store toothbrushes together
  • Let your brush air-dry before storing it in an enclosed container
  • Change the toothbrush every 3 – 4 months
  • Change a toothbrush after a bacterial infection
  • Alternate between brushes to ensure you use them when dry
  • Store the brush away from the toilet

Toothbrush storage tips

Use the tips below to store your toothbrush to keep it germ-free:

  • Keep it dry. Since bacteria love moist environments, ensure your brush gets a chance to dry thoroughly between brushing. Don’t cover the toothbrush when wet. It creates a breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Keep the toothbrush upright. Always keep the toothbrush upright in its holder.
  • Don’t store the toothbrush together. Don’t store the toothbrush side-by-side or in the same cup with other people’s brushes.

Are you looking for a dental clinic in New Westminster?

For more information about general dentistry, contact Asante Dental Centre.