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Dr. Edwards' Blog

Dirty toothbrushes:  You might be surprised at the germs lurking in yours - Sept. 17

Who would knowingly want to brush germs onto their teeth?   After all, brushing removes bacteria, right?  Not always. 

Researchers at the University of Alabama say Staphylococci, coliforms, pseudomonads, yeasts, intestinal bacteria and -- yes -- even fecal germs could be hiding in your toothbrush.  "The oral cavity is home to hundreds of different types of microorganisms, which can be transferred to a toothbrush," said Research Dr. Maria Geisinger.  She adds that since most toothbrushes are stored in bathrooms, many of the microscopic intestinal bacteria can be transferred with the flush of a toilet or through inadequate hand washing.

So how can you keep all those germs out of your mouth?  It has a lot to do with how you store your toothbrush.

The American Dental Association recommends that you DO NOT store your toothbrush in a closed container since a damp environment can promote growth of microorganisms.

Instead, the ADA recommends storing toothbrushes in an upright position and allowing them to dry in between uses.   It also suggests we replace our toothbrush every 3 to 4 months or when the bristles become frayed and worn.   And since illness can be spread through body fluids, the ADA recommends that, if possible, replace your toothbrush after you recover from a sickness.

In addition, study researchers at the University of Alabama came up with four steps to help achieve a higher quality of oral health and avoid or limit some of the causes of bacteria toothbrush buildup:

  1. Use antimicrobial mouth rinse before you brush to decrease the bacteria in your mouth.
  2. See your dentist regularly.
  3. Wash your hands.
  4. Do not share toothbrushes.


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