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Your Toothbrush Could Be Making You Sick

Updated on September 24, 2017
revmjm profile image

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained minister and Bible teacher.

The Toothbrush

Everybody uses them; men, women, boys and girls. However, few people know that the toothbrush they are using might be hazardous to their health.

The toothbrush consists of a head of tightly clustered bristles mounted on a handle. Most dentists recommend using a soft toothbrush since hard bristled toothbrushes can damage tooth enamel and irritate the gums.

Life Span of Your Toothbrush

When we leave the dentist office, he usually gives us a toothbrush but there are some things even he fails to tell us.

We know the best way to protect our teeth and gums is to brush our teeth at least twice a day. But this will not help much unless you are using the correct toothbrush.

Like foods and cosmetics, toothbrushes have a life span or a shelf life. The average toothbrush should be tossed after three or four months. If you forget how long you have been using your toothbrush, there is an indicator on the brushes that you have probably never noticed. Usually there are two colors on the white bristles and when color begins to fade into the second color, you should replace the toothbrush. That toothbrush cannot effectively remove plaque if the bristles are worn or frayed.

Do you cover up your toothbrush between uses?

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Do not cover up your toothbrush between uses. Your toothbrush should be allowed to air-dry. Bacteria and other organisms will grow faster on your toothbrush if kept in a close in a damp environment.

Do you rinse your toothbrush thoroughly after every use?

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Hold your toothbrush under running tap water until you have cleaned off all remaining toothpaste and debris that has been left on.

Do you disinfect your toothbrush?

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Soak Your Toothbrush

Some dentists suggest soaking your toothbrush in your mouthwash such as Listerine for at least five minutes each day. You do not need to do this if you have a toothbrush sanitizer.

Do you keep your toothbrush at least 6 feet away from your bathroom toilet to avoid airborne particles after flushing your toilet?

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DO NOT KEEP TOOTHBRUSH NEAR YOUR TOILET. If you were to see a still shot of a toilet being flushed it would look a lot like the fourth of July fireworks, meaning that water sprays up out of the toilet and lands on what is near it. KEEP your toothbrushes in the medicine cabinet.

Have you every shared your toothbrush? Or have you ever used someone else's toothbrush?

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Do Not Share Your Toothbrush

You shouldn't have to be told not to share your toothbrush or not to use somebody else's toothbrush.

When you share toothbrushes, you are swapping germs with the other user. This can make both of you sick.

Do you store more than one toothbrush in the same container?

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Don't Let Your Toothbrush Touch Another Toothbrush

If you store more than one brush in the same container and the heads are touching, the germs from one will definitely get on the other.

How often do you replace your toothbrush?

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When to Replace Your Toothbrush

Replace your toothbrush at least once every three or four months. If you have been sick during this time, then you should change your toothbrush after you get according to the American Dental Association.

There is a warning on Colgate and Arm & Hammer toothbrush packages that germs can hide in toothbrush bristles and lead to reinfection. So anytime you have had a cold or some other illness, change your toothbrush after you get well because germs might be lurking among the bristles.

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Unusual Uses For Listerine


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    • revmjm profile image

      Margaret Minnicks 6 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Betty, as a matter of fact, I don't always remember either. So I rely on the colors most of the time to know when to change my toothbrush.

    • Betty Johansen profile image

      Betty Johansen 6 years ago

      Thanks for the tip about the fading colors. I knew I should change toothbrushes fairly often, but have a hard time remembering how long I've been using each toothbrush. Keeping an eye on those colors will help. Thank you!

    • profile image

      Faye 6 years ago

      Great article.

    • revmjm profile image

      Margaret Minnicks 6 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Tara, dentists leave it up to us to buy our own toothbrushes between visits. Go on and ask for two brushes on your next visit. I will be curious to know his response.

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      Tara 6 years ago

      I knew about having your toothbrush away from the toilet and about getting new brush after illnesses, but did not realize that you should change in 3-4 months. That is good to know since the dentist normally gives you a new brush on your 6 month check only ( they should give you 2 or atleast tell you about frequency).