Let’s brush off one myth right away: Medically speaking, there’s no reason to toss your toothbrush and replace it after you’ve been ill to prevent reinfecting yourself with the same “bug.” Antibodies against whatever common viral or bacterial illness you’ve just experienced—such as a cold or strep throat—have built up in your body. That means that any germs remaining on your toothbrush won’t make you sick again.
However—and it’s a big however—if you live with other people, you still need to worry about infecting them. If you have a family member who has just been ill, you’re probably concerned that you and others might catch what he or she just had.
What rules should you apply to your home’s arsenal of oral health supplies? Some suggestions to help keep everyone healthier, no matter what point in the wellness/illness cycle you’re currently experiencing:
After brushing, rinse your toothbrush thoroughly with hot water. Be sure to let it dry thoroughly—viruses, bacteria and fungi like dampness. Consider having two toothbrushes per person, so a dry one is always ready.
Store toothbrushes belonging to different people as far away from each other as possible.
Keep toothbrushes as distant from the toilet as you can. Always flush with the lid closed to prevent droplets from escaping and possibly landing on toothbrushes.
Never share a common rinsing cup, whether made of glass, plastic or china. Instead, use the more sanitary choice: disposable paper cups. That’s what we do in our office.
Wash your hands prior to and after brushing to keep germs on your skin from finding their way into your mouth.
Replace your toothbrush every three months to ensure that the bristles aren’t too worn to clean your teeth effectively.
While you or another family member is sick, don’t share the same tube of toothpaste.
At your next visit, ask us for more tips about keeping your home oral health supplies as clean and germ-free as possible.