If you’ll forgive the rather unfortunate pun, you probably think you’ve got a pretty good ‘handle’ on toothbrush hygiene. A choice play on words, but true nonetheless – most people think they’ve got their toothbrush hygiene nailed.
For obvious reasons, a toothbrush isn’t the kind of thing most people take for granted in terms of hygiene. From the simplest traditional brushes to the best electric toothbrush on the market, the importance of good toothbrush hygiene is relatively obvious.
After all, if you’re going to use it to keep your mouth clean, it needs to be as clean as possible to do so.
Unfortunately, dentists across the UK are convinced that the vast majority of people are getting things wrong. It’s the classic case of not being able to see what’s actually going on with the naked eye. However, if you could see the germs, bacteria and other nasties gathering on your toothbrush, you probably wouldn’t let it anywhere in your mouth.
In fact, you’d probably only pick it up wearing disposable gloves!
On the plus side, improving everyday toothbrush hygiene doesn’t have to be difficult. Like most things, it’s simply a case of making a few basic lifestyle changes for the better. Even if you don’t notice much of a difference personally, your oral health and hygiene will thank you.
So with this in mind, here’s a quick rundown of six toothbrush hygiene mistakes you’re probably making, as reported by the British Dental Foundation:
1. Keeping it near the toilet
Kicking things off with the most revolting mistake of all, under no circumstances should your toothbrush be placed anywhere near the toilet. According to the British Dental Foundation, the average toilet is no less than an ‘aerosol’ – one that’s capable of spraying all manner of unthinkable things all over the bathroom. Even if you can’t see it, you’d be amazed how much stuff flies into the air each time you flush. Hence, if your toothbrush is even remotely close to your toilet, it’s collecting and harbouring things you don’t even think about right now. Closing the toilet lid before flushing is one thing, but good toothbrush hygiene means keeping it well and truly out of harm’s way.
2. Keeping it near the sink
When you consider the point outlined above, this also makes perfect sense. It’s exactly the same principle – each and every time you splash about doing anything in the sink, nastiness in a variety of forms makes its way into the air. Your sink might not be quite as unhygienic as a toilet, but it’s still loaded with the kind of stuff you don’t want to put in your mouth. This is perhaps the most common toothbrush hygiene mistake of all, given how most people keep their toothbrush right next to the sink. If possible, however, you should think about positioning it a decent distance away.
3. Using a toothbrush cover
Contrary to popular belief, there are actually very few instances where using a toothbrush cover is a good idea. That’s according to the vast majority of dentists, who collectively grimace at the thought of the things. This is because a toothbrush cover does not create a safe and hygienic environment as you might expect. Instead, it creates a moist and stagnant environment in which bacteria and germs can thrive. Rather than doing yourself a favour, you’re actually making one of the biggest and most common toothbrush hygiene mistakes of all. After each use, your brush should be rinsed, excess water removed and positioned somewhere it can dry naturally with good air circulation.
4. Letting multiple toothbrushes touch
It’s not uncommon for households with multiple occupants to use one shared toothbrush holder. Not necessarily the end of the world, but allowing multiple toothbrushes to touch increases the risk of cross-contamination. While the risk of getting sick as a result of touching toothbrushes is low, it’s nonetheless a risk that can be eliminated by preventing it from happening. When toothbrushes touch, any germs, bacteria and viruses can be quickly transferred between the brushes in the holder. If possible, therefore, it simply makes sense to protect yourself by keeping your toothbrush safely separated from others.
5. Cleaning product contamination
Most household cleaning products are designed to be as safe as possible to use. You could also say that a key aspect of toothbrush hygiene is ensuring you keep the bathroom clean and hygienic in general. However, it’s still important to ensure that your toothbrush doesn’t come into contact with cleaning products in general. Again, it’s a simple case of avoiding or minimising contact with anything you wouldn’t normally put in your mouth. Keep your toothbrush out of the way when using spray bottles in particular, otherwise a staggering quantity of residue can and will make its way onto your toothbrush.
6. Not changing brushes regularly enough
There’s only so much you can do to keep your toothbrush clean and hygienic long-term. As such, a time will eventually come when you need to swap it out for a new one. Along with contributing to toothbrush hygiene, changing your toothbrush once every 2 to 3 months also ensures your teeth and gums get a good clean. They’re not the most expensive products in the world, so there’s really no excuse for using the same brush indefinitely.
7. Not rinsing properly
Last but not least, brushing your teeth means using a brush to remove all the unwanted and potentially harmful nasties from your mouth. In doing so, you transfer the vast majority of them directly to your toothbrush. As a result, if you don’t sufficiently rinse your toothbrush after each use, they stick around, multiply and go straight back into your mouth a few hours later. Good toothbrush hygiene begins and ends with the simplest things, like making sure your toothbrush is as clean as possible. So, rather than simply ‘showing’ your brush the cold water tap, give it a good rinse and make sure it’s clean, before setting it aside to dry.