When to toss the toothbrush

By: Health Local Staff Jul 29, 2013
  Article
Toothbrush safety

When is it time to toss out the old and bring in the new toothbrush?

In a recent poll conducted by the pediatric academic and medical communities, the majority of people throw their toothbrush out immediately following a sickness, cold or flu. This common practice may not be necessary, according to researchers.

The toothbrush you used while you had a sore throat, cold or even strep does not continue to house germs. You may be throwing out that toothbrush for no reason. Here’s why.

The Research and Findings

Toothbrushes were tested in a laboratory at the University of Texas in Galveston. The medical lab studied over 50 toothbrushes that were collected from a variety of patients. Some of the patients had recently gotten over strep throat, some recently experienced a sore throat but did not have strep and some were collected from healthy participants.

Bacteria were detected on one toothbrush. Interestingly, the bacteria were found on a toothbrush that had been collected from a healthy patient. The patient had not had a sore throat.

The findings revealed that it is probably safe to keep your toothbrush even after you’ve been sick with a sore throat. So, when is it time to toss out the old and bring in the new toothbrush?

Worn out bristles

If you are following the dental recommendation of tossing your toothbrush out every three months, you may not have to worry about worn out bristles. However, it is a good rule of thumb to trash your toothbrush when you see the bristles start to lose their rigidity. If there is toothpaste build-up on the bristles that doesn’t wash off, it’s time to throw the brush away. Bacteria can be harboured in the build-up.

You’ve recently travelled

If your toothbrush has been riding along in a concealed container, moisture can build up. It is time to toss out the old brush and start using a fresh one when you return from your trip. Look for travel containers that have holes for ventilation to prevent bacteria from growing.

You dropped it

There is no two, three or five-second rule when it comes to dropping your toothbrush. Even if you drop the brush on the floor of your bathroom or sink, the bristles can collect germs that present bacteria to your mouth. Get rid of the brush and use a new one. It is important to have a couple of extra toothbrushes on hand in case one is dropped. 

You brushed up to another brush

Did your brush accidently co-mingle with your roommate’s toothbrush? Worse yet, did your partner accidentally use your toothbrush by mistake? If so, toss it and grab a new one. Why take a risk of introducing foreign bacteria to your mouth that could make you sick? Take precautions and keep your toothbrush secured away so that it cannot be contaminated.

The Health Local Staff is a team of writers and experts dedicated to bringing you the latest health, nutrition and lifestyle information at www.healthlocal.ca.