The toothbrush is as ubiquitous in American homes as toilet paper and for good reason. You scrub food off of your teeth with it, brush the icky film off of your tongue with it, and use it to keep your breath smelling fresh. While the toothbrush is of vital importance to most people, we often do no more than rinse it and give it a perfunctory shake to clean it. However, cleaning it more thoroughly will help your toothbrush keep doing what it does--clean your mouth. It may even help you get through this winter’s cold and flu season a little healthier.
If you are like most people, you are reminded each morning of the millions of bacteria growing in our mouths. After all, that’s one of the reasons we brush our teeth every morning. But where do those germs go? Yes, some of them go down the drain, but far too many of them remain on our toothbrushes.
Toothbrushes are a fertile breeding ground for a number of strains of viruses and bacteria including the ones that cause the common cold and influenza. For this reason, the National Dental Association suggests that you replace your toothbrush every three months and clean it thoroughly at least once a week.
Here are a few ways to do that:
Soak your toothbrush in antibacterial mouthwash. Rinse thoroughly before using again.
For everyday cleaning, you can store your toothbrush in a small cup of hydrogen peroxide. When you brush your teeth, change out the hydrogen peroxide.
Boil your toothbrush for about 3 minutes. Although it is hard on your toothbrush, boiling water will kill most germs.
A toothbrush can also be placed into the silverware compartment of the dishwasher to be sanitized. Run your toothbrush through on the hot cycle without soap.
Purchase a UV toothbrush sanitizer. These nifty gadgets work by combining steam with dry heat to sanitize your toothbrush. However, if you don’t want to shell out the money, studies show that soaking your toothbrush in Listerine works almost just as well.
Your teeth are important and so is oral hygiene. Don’t “clean” your mouth with a dirty toothbrush; remember to thoroughly clean your toothbrush every week. To prevent over-using your toothbrush, it is wise to keep a supply of new toothbrushes on hand so you can readily replace the old one every three months. If you use an electric toothbrush, the heads are replaceable and can be cleaned and disinfected in the same way as a conventional toothbrush.
If you notice your toothbrush is starting to fray- It might be best to throw it away.
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