We use our toothbrushes every day and yet we don’t usually give them a second thought. But should we pay them closer attention? Just how clean are our toothbrushes anyway?
Rather alarmingly, several studies have found that toothbrushes actually harbour quite a lot of bacteria. In this post, we’ll investigate this in more detail.
Studies into toothbrush contamination
In 2012, a study looked at the findings of ten other studies into toothbrush contamination (which is the theory that we contaminate our toothbrushes with bacteria every time we brush our teeth). The findings were conclusive: every one of the ten studies found that toothbrush contamination is actually real. And not all of the bacteria are harmless either. Some of the studies found bacteria such as e-coli, staphylococcus and herpes lying on toothbrushes.
What’s more, the more you use your toothbrush, the more contaminated it gets. So it’s a good idea to change your toothbrush every few months!
What can we do about toothbrush contamination?
While toothbrush contamination might sound alarming, there’s no need to be too concerned. For one thing, most bacteria that you’ll find on your toothbrush are harmless. For another thing, there are bacteria everywhere, not just on your toothbrush. In fact, it would be very unusual if your toothbrush didn’t contain any bacteria. So there’s no need to worry too much.
However, it’s still a good idea to change your toothbrush often. That’s because, over time, your toothbrush bristles become more splayed and worn out, which makes your them less effective at cleaning. So try to change your toothbrush every three to four months for maximum effectiveness. This will also help ensure that you always have a clean toothbrush.
Tips on how to keep your toothbrush clean
If you want to keep your toothbrush clean without having to buy a new one every week, then try leaving your toothbrush to soak in mouthwash for a few hours. Mouthwash contains a bit of alcohol which is lethal to germs. In fact, it’s been proven that mouthwash can kill most of the bacteria on a toothbrush.
Another way to keep your toothbrush clean is to rinse your mouth with mouthwash before brushing. This will reduce the number of bacteria that get transferred to your toothbrush. It’s a win-win all around – your mouth is cleaner and so is your toothbrush.
But don’t bother trying to remove germs from your toothbrush using tap water. One study has found that rinsing your toothbrush in the tap water does practically nothing to remove bacteria.
It’s not just a myth that toothbrushes have high levels of germs; it really is true. What’s more, every time you brush your teeth, it leaves more and more bacteria on the toothbrush.
However, there’s no need to be too alarmed. Most of the germs are harmless and they’re probably already in your mouth anyway.
Still, it’s a good idea to change your toothbrush often though – about once every three months or so should do the trick. You can also try soaking your toothbrush in mouthwash between brushings to keep it clean. This will kill the bacteria and ultimately improve your dental health.