Just How Clean is Your Toothbrush?

by | Sep 9, 2014 | Dental Health

Hi everyone!

bacteriaWhen you wake up in the morning what’s the first thing on your mind?  Most likely it’s not that bacteria-ridden toothbrush you’re about to use!

It turns out that nasty bacteria like staphylococci, coliforms, pseudomonads, yeasts, and intestinal bacteria are probably swarming the bristles of your brush.  Just how did these little critters make its way to your toothbrush?

It would be easy to assume that the food you eat every day is the main causing bacteria to form on your teeth and gums. But, according to Dr. Maria L. Geisinger, assistant professor of Periodontology, School of Dentistry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), it’s definitely not the reason why your mouth has hundreds of these microorganisms.   Since most toothbrushes are stored in bathrooms, gastrointestinal bacteria can easily transfer to a toothbrush during use.  Your toothbrush can have as many as  1 million colony forming units (CFUs) of microorganisms!

And of course there is more to cleaning  your toothbrush than just a rinse and an air dry.  Proper care and storage will keep it from harboring germs that can transfer to your teeth and gums.

Seriously, Toilet Bacteria Can Reach My Toothbrush?

According to Dr. Maria Geisinger, it most certainly can.  How it got there really isn’t a mystery.  It can occur when microscopic droplets are released from a flushing toilet or when you don’t wash your hands properly before using your toothbrush.

As a recent topic on the Discovery Channel show “Mythbusters,” 24 toothbrushes were tested in an experiment and all of them revealed enteric microorganisms which are found in the intestines.  Additionally, even those toothbrushes that were not exposed to bathrooms had tested positive for the same microorganisms.  In fact toothbrushes can be contaminated right out of the box!.

So, here are a few tips to keep bacteria from forming on your toothbrush:

  • Always thoroughly rinse your toothbrush with water after brushing.  Be sure to remove any food debris entirely.   Shake it out well before storing it to dry.
  • Try soaking your toothbrush in a dilute solution of antibacterial mouthwash or hydrogen peroxide.  UV lights are also available to help decontaminate your brush.
  •  Store your toothbrush in an upright position and allows to air dry.  The ADA recommends that you never keep it in a closed container or cover it.  Damp environments help the growth of bacteria. It may even be helpful to have more than one toothbrush so you can alternate, giving each brush 24 hours or more to dry out.
  • Replace your toothbrush every 2 to 3 months or whenever you notice the bristles bending near the tips.

Sharing is not always Caring

Obviously you don’t want to share a toothbrush if you can help it.  Surprisingly, recent research conducted by the British Dental Health Foundation found that one in every 10 couples admitted to sharing a toothbrush. Hmmmm, am I right?

Other findings include one in five people admitted to using their finger to brush their teeth and two out of five people said they rinsed and brushed with water only.  Even more amazing, one in seven admitted to using household items like business cards, credit cards and earrings to pick in-between teeth.  Think about how much bacteria is on those items since they’ve been handled by a lot of people.

In addition, before every brushing be sure to wash your hands thoroughly and rinse your mouth well with a antimicrobial mouth wash.   See the patient-friendly staff at Dr. Mark Langberg’s  for regular checkups and cleanings.  Keeping your teeth for a lifetime and your mouth healthy is a team endeavor!

At Dr. Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD, PC , we can help guide you to making the right choices regarding your dental health.  We consistently stay up to date with all recent clinical advancements o provide the best care possible.  Just take a look at what our patients are saying about us.  Don’t put off keeping your mouth healthy for another day!  A relaxed, pain-free and  judgment-free experience is just a phone call away!.  Call us today at 248-356-8790and discover the difference a great dentist can make!

Until Next Time,

Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD
Your Southfield Family Dentist
Tel: (248) 356-8790




British Dental Health Foundation, National Smile Month (2014). Research carried out by Atomik Research, sample size 2,026.