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You're Probably Not Replacing Your Toothbrush Often Enough

Your mouth is a pretty grody place, home to lots and lots of bacteria. Your bathroom probably isn’t too clean spick and span either. Given that your toothbrush spends time in both locations, you may have wondered if you need to clean your toothbrush.

The ADA recommends that you replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months or sooner if it becomes frayed from use. The American Dental Association also notes that given the probability of microorganisms living on your toothbrush, it is understandable that you might be concerned about toothbrush hygiene. But overall, it seems to trust the human body to work as a defense mechanism against any harmful agents that might try to invade. As the ADA notes that although studies have shown microorganisms growing on toothbrushes, “there is insufficient clinical evidence to support that bacterial growth on toothbrushes will lead to specific adverse oral or systemic health effects.”

That said, there are regimens that the ADA recommends you take to protect yourself from harmful organisms. These include never sharing a toothbrush, to avoid exchanging bodily fluids and microorganisms, which increase the risk of infections. This also includes keeping toothbrushes in the same container—make sure they are separated to avoid cross-contamination. It’s especially important for people with a compromised immune system. Thoroughly rinse your toothbrush after you use it to get rid of debris and toothpaste. Don’t cap it or keep it closed because dark, wet conditions lead to bacterial growth.

Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months or as needed. If you still have concerns about having a dirty toothbrush, the ADA recommends also using mouthwash so that your mouth is cleaner for your toothbrush. You can also store your toothbrush in mouthwash. And although the ADA acknowledges the presence of toothbrush cleaners on the market, it says that they’re not necessary for good oral hygiene practices.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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