Your toothbrush doesn’t get clean when you brush, and so you have to take special care to ensure that germs, food particles, and debris don’t wind up back in your mouth later. Here, Dr. Damon R. Johnson, DDS, answers questions and offers advice on how to make sure your toothbrush isn’t harboring bacteria.
Q: How long can germs live on a toothbrush?
Dr. Damon R. Johnson, DDS: Bacteria and viruses from an infected mouth can live for weeks, even if you rinse your toothbrush after you use it.
Q: How should I clean and store my toothbrush?
Dr. Damon R. Johnson, DDS: First, rinse it with warm tap water to remove any hidden food particles. You may also want to give it a 30 second soak in an antibacterial mouthwash – especially if you’re sick. To store, simply place it upright on the counter and let air dry.
Q: Are toothbrush sanitizers worth the money?
Dr. Damon R. Johnson, DDS: There are a number of different types of toothbrush sanitizers on the market that do reduce the number of bacteria lingering between the bristles. They range in price, but you can get a good quality UV toothbrush sanitizer for less than $20. It’s not a bad investment, especially if your bathroom maintains high humidity.
Q: How often should I replace my toothbrush?
Dr. Damon R. Johnson, DDS: You should get a new toothbrush every three or four months, at least. If you use an electric toothbrush, you can buy one with removable heads. If your toothbrush begins to look careworn sooner, go ahead and swap it out. Frayed bristles don’t clean very effectively and might even hurt your gums. If you notice your toothbrushes wear out quickly, you might want to try brushing with less force.