Blog Dental Health

How gross is your toothbrush?

If it’s near the toilet, it’s going to be bad

After you finish brushing your teeth, where do you put your toothbrush?

I’m sure you said, “I leave it sitting on the bathroom counter like always.” I would have said that too until a few weeks ago.

I recently learned that you shouldn’t leave your toothbrush within six feet of the toilet. Think about it… You use your toothbrush for two minutes in the morning and two minutes at night. But for the other 1,436 minutes of the day, your toothbrush is exposed to germs in the bathroom. And every time someone flushes the toilet, a hurricane of bacteria flies into the air.

If you don’t close the lid before flushing, get into the habit now. When you flush with the lid open, whatever goes down is also spraying up. These particles, viruses and bacteria can land within a six-feet radius of the bowl. If your toothbrush is in the splash zone, it could harbor more than 10 million bacteria.

The bacteria making a home in your bristles can include E. coli, staph, lactobacillus, and pseudomonas. Even fungus and viruses can move in.

Fecal coliforms (bacteria from the waste you’re flushing) are commonly found in natural waterways and on your skin. They’re a part of everyday life like most germs. However, problems can arise when you’re exposed to coliform from others or when your immune system is weakened.

For example, E. coli is the most common fecal coliform found on toothbrushes. Usually harmless, this bacteria lives in the intestines of humans and animals. However, some strains of E. coli can cause gastrointestinal problems such as severe diarrhea, vomiting and cramping.

All of that gut pain in the name of “cleaner” teeth? No thanks! So how do we keep our toothbrush safe?

First and foremost, always close the toilet lid before you flush.

When you’re done brushing your teeth, thoroughly rinse your toothbrush to remove any toothpaste, toothpowder or debris. Store your toothbrush in an upright position where it can air dry. If it stays wet after you rinse it, bacteria will have a field day.

You should replace your toothbrush every three months or sooner if the bristles have become frayed. Don’t share your toothbrush or store it right next to someone else’s. This will help prevent cross-contamination.

These safety measures are so easy, we don’t really think about them. So which ones are you going to implement today?

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