There are some widely used items that we inevitably run into on a daily basis that are absolutely filthy. While everybody recognizes money and mobile phones as being top of the list, only very few actually sanitize their hands after touching them. But there are some items out there that bare a lot of creepy bacteria that we regard as hygiene products. Out of these, your toothbrush is the absolute worst.
There is a fine line between having good hygiene habits an becoming a clean freak, always armed with three different types of hand sanitizer and all sorts of plastic protective gizmos. While the are some crucial guidelines that you have to follow, your immune system is usually strong enough to cope with a wide range of bacteria that you come into contact with every single day.
Toothbrushes are extremely filthy objects that are basically impossible to clean. This is the conclusion that even the American Dental Association (ADA) seems to have reached, because there is almost nothing you can to keep your brush completely clean.
Most people keep their toothbrushes in glass-shaped holders on the side bathroom sink, or in the cabinet. Well, since the bathroom is the place where you use the toilet and take hot showers in, it is also the room where bacteria flies all around in the steam from the hot water.
Therefore, according to what you might have in your bathroom, like cleaning products and detergent, you’re going to get a lot of chemicals and bacteria on your toothbrush, which you are eventually going to put in your mouth.
The most dangerous scenarios are those that involve shared bathrooms. And the more people that use said bathroom, the worse it gets. Probably the most dangerous and gruesome aspect is the fact that coliform bacteria, that are a natural component of your personal gut gets on your toothbrush.
And obviously, the more people using a bathroom, the wider range of intestinal comensal bacteria on your toothbrush. And while your body has no issue in dealing with its own bacteria, it might not always react well to that of your flatmates. And the more you think about it, the more disgusting and downright gory it gets.
The worst part is that you really cannot do anything to prevent this. There are some people who place their toothbrushes into special plastic caps or enclosed holders, but that this is not in fact a helpful method, because it actually enables some types of bacterial development, due to the low Oxygen concentrations.
Others might feel safe if they dip their toothbrush in mouthwash every once in a while. This however does not keep your toothbrush safe either, since the antiseptic properties of the mouthwash are not potent enough to fight the germs on your toothbrush and maintain it clean until you remember to repeat the process.
In fact, you might as well forget about all together, according to ADA, since they point out that the effect of the toothbrush cleaning products out there is negligible on the long run.
The utopian ideal method would probably be to use disposable toothbrushes. However, this is a highly unlikely solution, unless you’re some kind of millionaire, because using at least 2 toothbrushes a day, every day, will amount to an expense that no regular person is willing to handle.
Fortunately, like in all the other fields of hygiene, there are some guidelines that will keep you away from harm in the most common situations regarding your oral hygiene habits. According to ADA, there are 4 rules that should be strictly followed at all times.
Firstly, it is completely unadvised to share toothbrushes. Whether it’s your spouse or that creepy roommate that you found on Craigslist, it is never ever a good idea to allow people to borrow your toothbrush. This is one of those items that is strictly personal for a reason.
Secondly, you need to take the time each and every single time you brush your teeth to rinse your mouth and your toothbrush as well. You need to be careful that the residue toothpaste is all gone before you put it back in the holder and you can use clean tap water for that, because this represents a mechanical cleaning technique.
Thirdly, you need to keep your toothbrush in open containers, as previously mentioned. And lastly, you need to be careful and change your toothbrush every 3 or 4 months, because they gather up quite an impressive collection of bacteria in this time and because they lose their ability to clean your teeth properly, due to the inevitable wear and tear of daily use.
So, it is probably best to take a step back and give your immune system some credit, because it keeps you safe from more germs than you can possibly imagine. It’s no obsessing about it, because the hygiene guidelines out there are powerful enough to keep you healthy and away from harm.
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