Your toothbrush is a breeding ground for germs. If you put your toothbrush under a microscope, what you would see would be shocking and disgusting. It is quite likely that you would find a soup of Staphylococci, coliforms, pseudomonads, yeasts, intestinal bacteria and even fecal germs. As many as 10 million germs and bacteria can be found on a single toothbrush. How do all those germs land on your toothbrush? Most of them come from your mouth. "The oral cavity is home to hundreds of different types of microorganisms, which can be transferred to a toothbrush during use," says Maria L. Geisinger, DDS, assistant professor of periodontology in the School of Dentistry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. And some germs come from the toilet. You probably store your toothbrush in the bathroom. If the toilet is flushed with the lid up, then microscopic droplets of fecal germs are sprayed around the room, and some can land on your toothbrush. They can also be transferred to your toothbrush by your own hands if you have not washed them properly before brushing.

  • What is the proper way to clean your toothbrush to help remove germs? 
  • Prior to brushing your teeth, wash your hands with soap and warm water. 
  • Rinse your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash before you brush your teeth to reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth. 
  • Thoroughly rinse your toothbrush with potable tap water after you brush to remove any remaining toothpaste and debris. 
  • Soak your toothbrush in an antibacterial mouthwash. 
  • Do store your toothbrush upright and in the open air. Do not put it in a closed container, as this creates a damp environment that is more conducive to the growth of microorganisms. 
  • Close the toilet lid before flushing. 
  • Replace your toothbrush every three to four months or when the bristles become frayed or worn -- whichever comes first. Also, always replace it after an illness.


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