Did you know that your toothbrush is loaded with germs? Research from the University of Manchester found that one uncovered toothbrush can harbor more than 100 million bacteria, including E. coli which can come from fecal matter. Yuck. 100 million sure sounds like a lot doesn’t it? If you were to count to 100 million, it would take you more than 1 year and 10 months of non-stop counting. If you were to limit your counting to 8 hours per day to allow time to eat and rest, it would take you more than 5 years and 6 months! 100 million pennies stacked one on top of another reach around 96 miles high! That’s ignoring compression of course. The stack would weigh about 250 tonnes so the pennies on the bottom would be crushed!
Don’t worry; your body’s natural defenses make it highly unlikely that going to catch an infection simply from brushing your teeth. Where did those millions of bacteria in your toothbrush come from? Most of them came from your own mouth. There are hundreds of microorganisms in our mouths at all times, and plaque –the stuff you brush off your teeth – is actually bacteria. So you’re putting bacteria on your toothbrush every time you brush your teeth. It’s gross, but perfectly normal.
There are a few things that you should be doing to keep your toothbrush as germ free as possible, and to limit your toothbrush’s exposure to nasty bacteria like E. coli.
- Don’t Brush Where You Flush. Every toilet sends a spray of bacteria into the air when it’s flushed. You don’t want toilet spray anywhere near your toothbrush. You wouldn’t lick the toilet bowl would you? Of course not, so make sure to store your toothbrush as far from the toilet as possible.
- Wash Your Hands Before You Brush. Your mother taught you to wash your hands before you eat. The same advice applies to brushing your teeth.
- Store it Properly. Rinse it with water after you use it and allow it to dry between brushings. Bacteria love a moist environment. Avoid toothbrush covers.
- Keep it Upright. Store it in a holder rather than lying it down.
- No Sharing. Don’t share toothbrushes with anyone. Don’t store your toothbrush side by side in the same cup with other brushes. When toothbrushes touch, they swap germs.
- Toss it Every 3 to 4 Months. That’s what the American Dental Association recommends. If the bristles become frayed, you get sick, or have a weak immune system then throw it out more often. The same rules apply to electric toothbrush heads.
Follow these steps and you’ll be fine. Remember to brush and floss daily to keep gum disease, tooth decay and bad breath at bay. Rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash before or after brushing can also help reduce plaque-causing bacteria that can lead to gingivitis.
You don’t have to brush your teeth – just the ones you want to keep. ~ Author Unknown