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Your Toothbrush Could Be Making You Sick

Updated on June 4, 2019
revmjm profile image

Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She researches and shares remedies for using certain products for illnesses.

Different kinds of toothbrushes
Different kinds of toothbrushes

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.

Notice the colors of the toothbrush bristles. There are there for a reason.
Notice the colors of the toothbrush bristles. There are there for a reason.

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.

There are different colors of the bristles on a toothbrush for a special reason. There are not just there for decoration. Usually, there are two colors on the white bristles and when one 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 it is covered up or kept in a closed or damp environment.

Rinse your toothbrush
Rinse your toothbrush

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 have been left on the brush.

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 your 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.

It is easy to prevent that from happening. Always keep your toothbrush 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.

If you have forgotten your toothbrush when you travel or if you are without one for some other reason, simply put toothpaste on a washcloth and rub it across your teeth. It is not the ideal way, but since you won't be doing it that ways for long, certainly it is better than using another person's brush.

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

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Do not let your toothbrushes touch
Do not let your toothbrushes touch

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 well, according to the American Dental Association. Most people forget to do that or that didn't know they should get a new toothbrush.

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 a cold or some other illness, change your toothbrush after you get well because germs might be lurking among the bristles.

Helpful Hints

Now that you know some helpful tips about your toothpaste, don't forget to check on your kids' toothbrushes. Perhaps you should buy a new toothbrush for the entire family and keep them on hand so they will be available when someone in the family needs one.

While you are at it, purchase extra brushes to take with you when you and your family travel.

Was this information helpful?

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

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    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      10 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 

      10 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 

      10 years ago

      Great article.

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      10 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.

    • profile image

      Tara 

      10 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).

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