The Importance of a Clean Toothbrush
Keeping a clean toothbrush is very important for your health, and some people undertake unique traditions to maintain some sense of toothbrush hygiene. Some people use a dishwasher or soak it in denture cleaner. Some freeze it or boil it. There are others who have invested in an expensive ultraviolet toothbrush sanitizer. However, while keeping your toothbrush clean is very important, there is no need to go through heroic efforts to do so. A thorough rinse in hot water for about 10-15 seconds should do just fine, then air dry the toothbrush.
Yes, your toothbrush has bacteria on it—mostly coming from the natural flora of bacteria that naturally lives in your mouth, and this bacteria is necessary for a healthy mouth. In fact, a recommendation from the American Dental Association (ADA) includes citations from studies concluding that normal bacteria found on a toothbrush is harmless.
Dentists maintain that not having that bacteria is when unwanted organisms like fungi and yeast can come in and take over. Instead of sterilizing your toothbrush, do make sure that you replace it once it shows any sign of getting worn. Any discoloration, display of spread-out or matted bristles are all indications that you should replace your toothbrush. A toothbrush should appear clean with straight bristles at all times. Do rinse it well to remove any toothpaste, preventing build up, and make sure any particles are rinsed away.
If you are in doubt about whether to toss your toothbrush just yet, err on the side of caution and throw it out. Generally the ADA recommends replacing a toothbrush every 3-4 months. However, if you have an infection of any kind in your mouth, replace your toothbrush at the beginning and end of treatment.
Do not ever share a toothbrush. Everyone has their own unique flora—healthy bacteria in their mouth. What is healthy for one mouth may interfere with the health of another mouth, particularly in children as they develop their own flora.
Keep your toothbrush stored in open air and away from the toilet. Keeping a toothbrush in a container or drawer can promote the growth of mold or unwanted bacteria, which isn’t natural to your mouth, and the contamination can lead to other oral problems such as gingivitis.