Throughout winter, people are seemingly more conscious of their health – and for good reason. According to statistics from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Americans collectively suffer from as many as one billion colds each year. As we strive to stay healthy by washing our hands regularly, getting rest and drinking plenty of fluids, many of us might not realize that preventing germs and maintaining a clean, healthy mouth can be greatly impacted by something as simple as your toothbrush.
Your mouth is a warm, dark, moist space, making it a breeding ground for bacteria that could end up in your bloodstream, weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to sickness. As a result, it is important to brush twice daily, floss regularly, use mouthwash and get routine professional cleanings.
Furthermore, toothbrushes are germ magnets. They harbor bacteria not only from your mouth, but also from the environment where they are stored. The American Dental Association (ADA) advises people to thoroughly rinse toothbrushes with tap water to remove toothpaste and debris after each use, and store them upright to air-dry. Don’t routinely cover or keep toothbrushes in closed containers. When storing more than one brush, it is recommended that you keep them separated so germs are not transferred from one brush to the other.
You might also consider keeping a few extra toothbrushes on hand. A worn-out toothbrush is less effective at cleaning. In fact, the ADA recommends replacing your toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner, if the bristles fray. Toothbrushes should also be thrown out after you’ve gotten over a sickness. If not, you run the risk of re-infecting yourself each time you brush. And remember, you should never share a toothbrush with another person.