You use your toothbrush to clean your teeth, but if you don’t keep your toothbrush clean, you could actually be harming your body. As many as 10 billion microbes live on your toothbrush at any given time.
Your body’s natural defenses are usually enough to protect you from getting an infection just from brushing your teeth, no matter how much bacteria is growing on your toothbrush. However, you could still get sick if you find yourself exposed to the right germs through your toothbrush.
So what can you do to reduce the bacteria on your toothbrush?
Rinse Your Toothbrush
It’s always important to rinse your toothbrush thoroughly with hot tap water after use to get rid of debris and toothpaste which could provide a breeding ground for bacteria. You can buy toothpaste sanitizer, but there’s no significant proof that it effectively prevents bacteria buildup, so you’re better off saving your money.
Store Your Toothbrush Properly
When you put your toothbrush back, make sure it’s stored in an upright position that allows it to air-dry until you use it again. Though you may be worried about bacteria flying around your bathroom, covering your toothbrushes or storing them in closed containers is the last thing you want to do. The moist environments that form in closed containers will actually cause microorganisms to grow even quicker.
Replace Your Toothbrush
But the best thing you can do is replace your toothbrush often. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends replacing your toothbrush every 3-4 months. If the bristles get frayed from use sooner than three months, you should replace them sooner.
You should also replace your toothbrush whenever you get sick, to keep those germs from sticking around and infecting you again. Experts generally agree that replacing toothbrushes is the best and most effective way to keep bacteria from building up.