In a word, yes, they do. In fact some experts contend that germs left on toothbrushes can cause infections, especially colds and gingivitis. But don’t be alarmed! There are very simple ways to protect your toothbrush from being a breeding ground for bacteria — some of which you probably already do.
But first, where does the bacteria come from? Every time you brush, you remove plaque and particles, often tainting the brush with bacteria, blood, saliva and other debris. Flushing a toilet with the lid up also has the potential to spread germs to your toothbrush, since polluted water vapour erupts from the toilet bowl, allowing particles to settle throughout your bathroom. If your toothbrush is too close to the toilet, you could be brushing your teeth with germs from your toilet. Sounds horrible, right? Not to worry. This need not be the case if you take some very simple steps to protect your toothbrush.
Since bacteria thrives in a damp environment, the Centers for Disease Control suggests rinsing your toothbrush thoroughly after brushing and letting it air dry, standing upright. Because microbes need moisture to survive, allowing it to dry this way makes it an inhospitable host for bacteria. Also comforting is the fact that most toothpastes contain an anti-germ component which acts to protect your mouth from any potential germs.
If you want to go the extra mile though, you can soak your toothbrush in alcohol to kill any germs. Mouthwash is also an antiseptic, so it works as a “toothbrush soak,” too, as does a solution of half water and half hydrogen peroxide. Another option is to dip it in boiling water for about five to 10 seconds. Beyond this, the Centers for Disease Control recommends closing the lid of your toilet before you flush — thus containing any possible spread of toilet water vapour throughout your bathroom. By doing these things you will maximize the life and cleanliness of your toothbrush. Just how often though should you replace your toothbrush?
The best way to limit the bacteria on your toothbrush is to replace it on a regular basis. Both adults and children should change their toothbrush every three months because they become worn out and are not as effective as they once were. For most people, the key determinant is the shape the bristles are in. When the bristles begin to spew in different directions, it is time for a new brush. Some electric rechargable toothbrushes however, have very good brush heads that only need to be changed every six months. If you have gum disease, you should consider changing your toothbrush more frequently — perhaps every four to six weeks — because of the risk of bacteria harbouring in the bristles.
Yes, with minimal effort, you can give your toothbrush the proper care and attention it needs to not be a breeding ground for potentially harmful bacteria.
If you have questions or concerns about any oral issues, please feel free to speak to any one of the dentists at North Burnaby Dental.