People swear by all sorts of folk wisdom with regard to maintaining a clean toothbrush. Some people run it through the dishwasher. Other people soak the head in mouthwash or effervescent denture cleaner. Still others freeze it, boil it or invest in a pricey ultraviolet toothbrush”sanitizer.”
But here’s the bottom line from a professional: None of this is necessary. Your best bet is to rinse your toothbrush in hot water.
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The reason is that you have a natural flora of bacteria living in your mouth that is crucial for a healthy environment. It is not necessary to try to completely remove these from your toothbrush. In its recommendation about toothbrush care, the American Dental Association (ADA) cites studies that have found no evidence of negative oral health consequences from normal bacteria on a toothbrush.
In fact, when that bacteria is removed, bad germs like fungi and yeast can take over inside your mouth. Instead of attempting to sterilize your toothbrush, make a habit of replacing it regularly.
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Here are a few other tips for maintaining a clean toothbrush:
- Use your eyes to protect your teeth. When you can visually see discoloration, or buildup or matting of the bristles, it’s time to change the toothbrush.
- When in doubt, throw it out. The suggestions on when to replace a toothbrush vary. Keep it easy and follow the ADA guidelines — sooner if the bristles become frayed, or replace it every few months. For those who have a viral or fungal, yeast infection in your mouth — replace your brush at the beginning of treatment and again at the end.
- Never share a toothbrush. Your mouth wants a wholesome flora of its own germs, but it is not good to introduce bacteria from someone else. That is why you should never share a toothbrush, especially with your kids.
- Give it lots of fresh air. Store your toothbrush in an open-air holder, not in a dirty cup, drawer or travel case. That can promote the growth of mold or bacteria that isn’t natural to your mouth, leading to mouth diseases like gingivitis.
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