Health Tips For A Clean Toothbrush

Steps you take to protect your mouth and teeth might actually be encouraging bacterial growth.

When we heard about a new “shield” accessory that covers a toothbrush to protect it from airborne microbes, we immediately had the urge to floss. Then we wondered whether such protection is essential to keeping our brushes—and our mouths—hygienic. Marvin Dubin, DDS, who practices in Mount Kisco, assuaged our fears. “A shield or covering actually isn’t recommended,” he says. “More bacteria are killed by air-drying.” 

He advises storing your brush (yours only; sharing is a sanitary no-no) upright and outside of a cabinet, since, inside, the moisture and lack of light can foster the growth of microorganisms. According to Dr. Dubin, studies have been conducted on the threat of nearby toilets, but “they’ve never found anything conclusive.” He adds, “The body is constantly exposed to bacteria and other microbes. A healthy person is not getting sick from their toothbrush.”      

After brushing, he says, simply rinse thoroughly with tap water to remove any remaining debris and toothpaste. Real germaphobes can dip theirs in a 50/50 percent solution of water and antimicrobial mouthwash, but Dr. Dubin insists this isn’t necessary. Otherwise, replace your toothbrush every three to four months (when the bristles are frayed and worn out), and, when traveling, make sure it’s not sitting damp and in a case for too long.  

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