Should I Be Cleaning My Toothbrush?
July 31, 2019

toothbrush under the running water


You may not give much thought to how clean your toothbrush is as you reach for it twice a day to scrub your teeth. However, your toothbrush can become contaminated with oral microbial organisms and quickly become more harmful than helpful. Viruses and bacteria from an infected person’s mouth can live on the surface of a toothbrush for weeks, continuing to cause illness.


Read on to learn whether you should be cleaning your toothbrush or merely replacing it. 

What The American Dental Association Recommends

The American Dental Association states that no commercial products can effectively sterilize a toothbrush, making toothbrush sanitizers unnecessary. According to the ADA, “There is insufficient clinical evidence to support that bacterial growth on toothbrushes will lead to specific adverse oral or systematic health effects.”


The ADA also notes that there is no clinical evidence that soaking a toothbrush in antibacterial mouthwash has any positive effects. If you choose to soak your toothbrush in mouthwash, your brush head should be immersed for no more than 15 minutes to avoid damaging the bristles. After soaking, discard the remaining rinse. The ADA also suggests replacing your toothbrush every three-to-four months.


How To Clean Your Toothbrush

The most effective way to keep your toothbrush clean is to rinse your brush before and after each use. Rinsing your toothbrush correctly with hot water is the most efficient way of removing potentially harmful bacteria. Hot water is able to clean and kill the bacteria that may be lingering and multiplying inside your toothbrush. Gently massaging the bristles while rinsing under hot water will help to ensure a thorough clean, and washing your toothbrush will help to remove bacteria and airborne particle buildup. 


Where You Store Your Toothbrush Matters

Keeping your toothbrush covered or stored in a closed container tends to increase bacterial growth because bacteria tend to grow in dark, warm, and moist places. Anaerobic bacteria are the primary cause of gum disease. Always keep your toothbrush in open, well-ventilated areas to prevent any unwanted growth.


Avoid Containers For Storage 

Specially-designed containers that promote keeping your toothbrush head clean can easily contaminate the bristles of the toothbrush. Impurities and pollutants that reside inside the capsule from not receiving proper cleaning can easily transfer onto your toothbrush too. 


Never Share Your Toothbrush

Sharing your toothbrush transfers germs and infections between users. Be sure that everyone in your household has their own toothbrush regardless of their age.


Exceptions to the Rules 

Taking preventative steps may help in guarding others in your family against illness from spreading. If someone in your family is sick or is at a higher risk of developing an infection, a toothbrush should be replaced more often than the recommended three-month time frame. Using antibacterial mouthwash to rinse and soak your toothbrush could also offer benefits. 


UV toothbrush sanitizers will not remove all germs, but some products approved by the Food and Drug Administration have shown to be effective. Because the ultraviolet light may deteriorate the bristles, a toothbrush should be replaced more often if you choose to use a UV sanitizer. 


Replace Your Toothbrush Every Three Months

Cleaning your toothbrush requires minimal effort, but it can save you from millions of infectious bacteria. These simple, yet practical tips for keeping your toothbrush clean can be easily incorporated into your oral health regimen. Regardless of how well you think you may be cleaning your toothbrush, it is essential to replace your toothbrush every three months. By that time, the bristles begin to wear out, causing potential harm to your enamel and your gums. 


To learn more about the best ways to keep your toothbrush clean, schedule your next dental exam with Premier Dental Center today.