Brushing your teeth regularly is an essential part of your daily dental care routine. For many years, we have been taught to brush our teeth twice daily, but many people do not know the right and most sanitary ways to store their toothbrushes. Improper storage makes your toothbrush vulnerable to harmful bacteria, which cause oral health problems.
The toothbrush is our first line of defence against tooth decay and gum disease; it is only right to store and maintain them properly to ensure that it can perform its job properly. Thankfully, storing your toothbrush safely is not difficult or complex.
Why It Matters Where You Keep Your Toothbrush
Storing your toothbrush is as important as properly brushing your teeth. An improperly stored toothbrush can be exposed to bacteria, viruses and fungi. Studies have found old toothbrushes can contain E.Coli, Staphylococcus Aureus, Streptococcus mutans, the herpes simplex virus, and candida yeast, among other potential pathogens. A damp toothbrush can also be a breeding ground for mould.
To maintain good oral hygiene, here are some tips on where, and how, to properly store your toothbrush.
Places You Should Never Store Your Toothbrush
- Near a Toilet – Storing your toothbrush near a toilet puts them at risk of contamination by toilet plumes. Toilet plumes are an aerosolized cloud of microscopic particles of urine, feces, or whatever it is in the bowl that sprays into the air when you flush the toilet. A 2005 study reported that toilet plumes can reach a vertical height of 2.7 feet after flushing. Other studies have determined that plumes could spread up to six feet from the toilet vertically. Toilet plumes can linger in the air for hours after flushing, and can include the following pathogens:
- Clostridium difficile
It’s worth noting that toilet plumes are not conclusively proven to make people sick, especially those with a healthy immune system. While your immune system can fight off germs and bacteria you are exposed every day, it is still a good dental practice to store your toothbrush in a much safer place.
- In a Medicine Cabinet – There are several reasons why the medicine cabinet is a poor storage place for your toothbrush. Because the medicine cabinet is a closed space, it does not have enough air flow. The absence of sufficient air supply makes it impossible for the toothbrush to completely dry. A wet toothbrush can be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Additionally, it is virtually impossible to keep your toothbrush upright in a medicine cabinet. This prevents the water from running off properly, and can prematurely fray the brush fibres.
- Near the Sink – Your sink may look clean, but it is still not a good place for your toothbrush. Not only are they frequently within the radius of the toilet plume, but tap handles can also be a hotspot from germs, bacteria, and mould.
Storing Your Toothbrush Safely
Where, then, can you store your toothbrush safely? The best option is the simplest, now that we know more about the dynamics of toilet plumes and tap handles. The best option is a wall-mounted toothbrush holder that is outside the radius of the toilet’s plume. A toothbrush holder keeps the toothbrush upright and in the open air, allowing excess water to run off and to dry completely.
In some smaller bathrooms, however, there may not be a good place to put a wall-mounted toothbrush holder. In such a case, you might consider mounting a toothbrush holder in the medicine cabinet. While not optimal, this will still allow the toothbrush to drain and dry properly inside the cabinet. Another good option, if you have the space, is a glass (brush upright), again outside of the range of the plume.
When storing toothbrushes in a cup or toothbrush holder, make sure there is enough space between to prevent their brushes or bristles from touching each other, as this can cause cross-contamination.
Also, be sure to store your toothbrushes away from all cleaning products. Storing them near cleaning products might expose them to chemicals, increasing the risk of accidental poisoning.
Tips for Keeping Your Toothbrush Clean
Here are some helpful tips on how to keep your toothbrush clean between uses:
- A UV sanitizer – This device’s powerful ultraviolet (UV) rays can kill disease-causing microorganisms in just a few minutes. Portable models can be carried around to keep your toothbrush clean at all times wherever you go.
- Mouthwash – Soaking your toothbrush in mouthwash can help get rid of harmful microorganisms. Fill a cup with enough mouthwash to soak the head of the toothbrush for about four hours. Rinse the toothbrush thoroughly with running water, and then store in a toothbrush holder to air-dry.
- Hydrogen peroxide – This option is among the most convenient ways to clean your toothbrush since hydrogen peroxide is readily available. Soak your toothbrush head in hydrogen peroxide for at least six hours to ensure that it is thoroughly sanitized and cleaned. Rinse thoroughly with running water, and air-dry in a toothbrush holder.
- Vinegar – Another simple and easy solution to sanitize your toothbrush is soaking it into vinegar for at least eight hours. Some people find that soaking overnight works best. Again, rinse thoroughly, and air-dry in a toothbrush holder.
- Boiling water – This is the most cost-effective way to sanitize your toothbrush. Boil water and place your toothbrush into the pot. Gently stir the toothbrush for 10 minutes with a spoon to sanitize its surface. Put it in a toothbrush holder to air-dry.
When To Retire Your Old Brush
Unfortunately, toothbrushes do not last a lifetime that is why it is essential to know when to toss them away. Dental health professionals recommend changing your toothbrush every three or four months. Here the most common signs that you need to replace it with a new one:
- If it has frayed or worn bristles
- If you have been sick
- If it has been improperly stored
- If it is more than three or four months old
An old, frayed toothbrush loses its ability to thoroughly scrub your teeth and remove plaque — a sticky, colourless layer of bacteria that coats your teeth. When not removed, plaque can eventually turn into tartar and cause various dental problems, like gum diseases and tooth decay.
Your toothbrush requires care to protect not only your oral health but your general overall health as well. In addition to caring for your toothbrush, visiting your reliable dentist in London, Ontario remains the most effective way to maintain superior teeth and gum health.
London City Dental is here to help you achieve all your family’s dental health needs. We take pride in our state-of-the-art equipment and our professional and friendly dental staff. From general dentistry to cosmetic dentistry, we provide superior dental services for you and the whole family. Call us now at (519) 657-6767 to book an appointment.