Your toothbrush may make you sick

Brushing your teeth everyday only
means adhering to the normal routine
of everyday cleaning. Experts
recommend brushing your teeth at least
twice a day.
Irrespective of age, brushing the teeth
may not seem to pose much of a
problem, as this is regarded as a daily
norm. A regular neglect of the mouth
can result in mouth odour or feeling
But experts say that this is nothing
compared with being sick because you
left your brush unkempt. Your brush
could be nastier than you think.
Toothbrushes are available with
different bristle textures, sizes and
forms. Most dentists recommend using a
toothbrush labeled “soft”, since hard
bristled toothbrushes can damage tooth
enamel and irritate the gums.
Dentists recommend that you replace
your brush when necessary. But when
exactly do you need to ditch your
toothbrush? Some say after using the
brush for some time, it should be
Whether you replace the toothbrush or
not keeping your toothbrush at the right
place will make a difference. A research
conducted at the University of
Manchester revealed that the toothbrush
is loaded with germs.
They found that one uncovered
toothbrush can harbor more than 100
million bacteria , including E. coli
bacteria , which causes diarrohea, and
staphylococci ( staph ) bacteria that
cause skin infections, however , Gayle
Mc Combs , associate Professor and
Director of Dental hygiene research
centre , said the bottom line is that there
are hundreds of bacteria in the mouth
According to her: “The problem starts
when there is an unhealthy balance of
bacteria in the mouth, which can be
gotten through your toothbrush”.
Dentist say with the body’s natural
defenses against bacteria , immunity
for a reasonable amount of time is
guaranteed but an unchanged habit of
continuous exposure of the toothbrush
to germs may trigger some infections in
the body.
For instance, experts warn that sitting
your brush on the closet while you flush
the toilet spreads germs even on the
brush. Studies revealed that this is
because every flush sends a spray of
bacteria into the air. Experts suggest
storing the toothbrush appropriately as
a necessary step in ensuring oral health.
Here are simple toothbrush storage tips
to keep your brush germ-free as much
as possible
Keep it rinsed: Wash your toothbrush
thoroughly with tap water every time
you use it.
Keep it dry: “Bacteria love a moist
environment” experts warn, make sure
your brush has a chance to dry
thoroughly between brushings. Avoid
using toothbrush covers, which can
create a moist enclosed breeding
ground for bacteria.
Keep your toothbrush upright: Store
your toothbrush in a holder, rather than
lying it down.
Keep it yourself: No matter how close
you are to your sisters or brothers, don’t
even store your toothbrush side by side
in the same cup with their toothbrushes.
Whenever toothbrushes touch, they can
swap germs.
Don’t share toothbrush: You can avoid
cross-contamination of germs by giving
each member of the family their own
toothbrush. Using an individual travel-
size container when someone is sick is
also a good habit.
• Wash your hands before and after
brushing: Whenever your hands are
near your mouth they can transfer
bacteria. Ensuring you have clean hands
before and after brushing can help
decrease the chance of introducing new
bacteria to your mouth, the handle of
your toothbrush or others
• Replace your toothbrush every four
months: Toothbrushes wear out and
don’t clean as effectively once the
bristles become worn down. If you do
get sick, be sure to replace your
toothbrush right away.
• Never brush while flushing the toilet
Most bathrooms are small and in many
cases, the toilet is pretty close to the
bathroom sink where you keep your
toothbrush. Every toilet flush sends a
spray of bacteria to the air. And you
don’t want the toilet spray any where
near your open toothbrush. For
instance, you don’t store your plates and
glasses near your toilet, so the same for
the toothbrush, why would you want to
store your toothbrush near the toilet. It
is important to store your toothbrush as
far as possible from the toilet advised
Mc Combs.
Similarly, Dr Femi Solaja, a consultant at
the Lagos University Teaching Hospital
(LUTH), Idi- Araba, Lagos, said that
although the health implication of not
storing the toothbrush could be mild,
people are different and what may
pose a serious problem in a person’s
body may not affect the other too much.
He suggested that when travelling,
people should never leave their
toothbrushes behind. Rather, store it in a
traffic pack. He stressed “if you must
leave your brush behind, then you
should sterilize it when you return. Dr
Mathias said “you cannot overestimate
the importance of good oral hygiene not
only for dental health, but for your
overall wellbeing. In fact, not storing the
toothbrush properly and exposing them
to germs may affect the gum thereby
leading to gum disease which poses a
major risk factor for the development of
serious health conditions, including
heart disease, diabetes among others”.
According to him, choosing a right
toothbrush therefore should be based
on size. She said the best toothbrush
head should allow for easy access to all
surfaces of your teeth. She said that the
most important of all is making sure
your toothbrush is stored properly.Toothbrush_x3_20050716_002


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