Toothbrushes and toilets- Don't brush your teeth with toilet water

Many of us are germphobics these days, reaching for the alcohol gel as often as we wash our hands. Nonetheless there is something that many of us have never considered that means that we put literally millions of germs into our mouths each day thinking that we are being hygienic.

Sometimes, something that is part of our daily routine is so accepted that we no longer even bother to think about it anymore. So it is with toothbrushes and toilets.

Before I go any further I want to ask you a couple of questions....

How would you feel about using a toothbrush that had been dropped into a toilet and then given a quick rinse?

Pretty revolted right?

So how would you feel about rinsing your toothbrush quickly in a freshly flushed toilet rather than running it under a tap?

Disgusted? correct?

However, there is something that millions do each day that is really no different.

Where is your toilet?

That might sound like it's an intrusive question, and it is. But I have my reasons.

If you have a separate room for your toilet, this whole thing doesn't apply to you. Unless of course you keep books and magazines in there to read while you are in there, in which case perhaps you should keep reading anyway.

However, for those of you like me who have a toilet that is situated in the same room as basins that are used for tooth brushing there is something you should know.

Every single time you flush the toilet a fine vapour of bacteria containing literally millions of germs is sent up into the air.

What this means is that that fine vapour spreads throughout the air in your  bathroom before settling and depositing germs on every surface. Including all over your toothbrush.

Bathrooms are places that we traditionally associate with getting clean, so it can be quite difficult to accept that this is the case, but very good evidence says that it is.

Of course most bathrooms are made with surfaces that are easily and regularly wiped clean so it isn't too much of an issue, but how many of us give our toothbrushes more than a perfunctory splosh under running water before we stick them into our mouths?


Brushing with Bacteria

What this effectively means then is that every single time we brush our teeth we are rubbing all around our mouths all of the germs that have come from our toilets. Of course, most of us have been doing this for years without what we would consider ill effects. What we don't really know though is how many of those little stomach upsets and illnesses that we have had could have been acquired like this.

Many people might argue that it is actually good for our immune systems to be challenged by germs and bacteria -and they are right. It's just, for me, I prefer my germs not to come from my toilet via my toothbrush. My small children give my immune system all the challenges that it needs.

Another source of germs from toothbrushes unrelated to toilets (thank goodness!) is when we put out toothbrushes into a pot with other people's. This means that the heads often touch together and the germs from their brush transfer to yours. This might not seem too revolting if they are members of your immediate family, but for people in shared houses this can be a disturbing thought.


Yikes! So what can I do?

There are quite a few things you can do to limit the number of bacteria that you pick up from your toothbrush.

If your house allows for it, store toothbrushes in an area where there is no toilet. Of course, not everyone has this as a possibility. In this case probably the most important thing that you can do is to CLOSE THE TOILET SEAT WHEN FLUSHING. This applies to everyone in your house that might use the toilet. Only you know whether you can trust the people in your house to do this. Personally, with two small children I'm lucky whether the toilet gets flushed by them at all, let alone with the lid down- but that is another story!

If you aren't sure that you can comply with the toilet seat down 100% of the time, also think about the way in which your toothbrush is stored. Firstly, it should be in something that stops the toothbrush heads resting together.

Secondly, where possible it should be in a covered container so that bacteria cannot settle on it. The only problem with this is that the container should allow sufficient air around it so that your toothbrush can dry otherwise your toothbrush may start to smell. At the very least, store your toothbrush in a cabinet, and remember to shut the door.

You should also ensure that you change your toothbrush regularly. Most dentists advise changing at least four times a year. If you use an electric toothbrush you should change the head regularly.

If you are really concerned about toothbrush germs have a look at my hub on toothbrush sanitizers. These kill germs and store toothbrushes hygienically.

For most people the thought of toothbrush bacteria is probably more revolting than anything else. It is unlikely that the germs would do you any real damage. However, if you have small children and babies or people with suppressed or damaged immune systems in your family you may wish to try a little harder at keeping their toothbrushes fresh and hygienic.


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