Everyone (well, nearly everyone) would agree that brushing your teeth is a non-negotiable part of a personal hygiene routine, but did you realise it is also important to keep your toothbrush clean?
Leaving your toothbrush next to the sink can expose it to all of the germs lurking in your loo.
A toothbrush’s primary job is to remove bacteria from your mouth, so what’s the point of brushing your teeth with a toothbrush riddled with germs?
To illustrate the point a US dentist known as Dr. M, real name Suhail Mohiuddin, has taken to TikTok to share his tips and advice on why it is so important you keep your toothbrush as clean as your pearly whites.
“Did you know your toothbrush harbours a ton of germs!! This is how to clean it and keep you healthy,” he captioned the clip before explaining that we should be regularly cleaning our toothbrushes to rid them of harmful bacteria.
How do you clean a toothbrush?
@dr.m_ advises washing the toothbrush head with soap and warm water daily, making sure to rinse all the soap off properly. However, not all dentists agree with this technique.
Dr Richard Marques, from dental practice Doctor Richard London, agrees that we should be cleaning our toothbrushes regularly, but he doesn’t recommend using soap and water as it can irritate the soft tissues of the mouth and throat if not rinsed off properly.
The British Dental Association’s scientific adviser, Professor Damien Walmsley also advises we should be cleaning our toothbrushes regularly as they can harbour bacteria, other microorganisms, saliva and other bodily contamination.
“A simple rinse after toothbrushing under the tap will get rid of debris and other material,” he says. “Then store them upright in the open.
“You can use mouthwash to rinse them and give them a quick soak,” he continues. “However don’t leave your brush in the mouthwash.”
He adds that Milton’s solution, which is used to clean baby bottles, is another effective method for disinfecting your toothbrush.
Dr Marques adds that “baking soda with water is also a great natural cleanser.”
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Overall Dr Marques advises keeping your toothbrush as clean as possible in the following ways:
“Always rinse off toothpaste residue thoroughly with water after brushing, and store them upright so the bristles can dry off completely between uses.”
This is because the bacteria that live on bristles are considered anaerobic, which means that they will die in the presence of oxygen, so air-drying will kill most of the bacteria.
But try not to store your toothbrush too near to your toilet, and close your toilet seat before flushing. This will help protect them against germs from toilet plumes.
Professor Walmsley also has some other tips for helping to improve our oral hygiene including how often we should be replacing our toothbrushes and toothbrush heads.
“A rule of thumb to replacing toothbrushes is every three to four months especially if the bristles start splaying out,” he says.
“It is also good practice as your brush may not be as effective if the bristles start to flay outwards.”
He also advises we avoid sharing toothbrushes with our nearest and dearest.
“Sharing a toothbrush could result in an exchange of bodily fluids and microorganisms between people,” he explains.
Finally, try to avoid storing lots of toothbrushes altogether, as germs can also spread that way.