Maintaining proper oral hygiene is essential to our overall health and well-being. One of the most important tools in this effort is the toothbrush, which helps us keep our teeth and gums healthy. However, as we use it regularly, a toothbrush can become a breeding ground for bacteria and other germs that can lead to illness or infection. To ensure our toothbrushes remain clean and free of harmful microorganisms, here are some tips on how to properly clean and disinfect your toothbrush:
Step 1: Wash your hands
Over the course of the day, all sorts of bacteria accumulate on your hands. To make sure they don’t end up on your brush, wash your hands before brushing your teeth.
If you also floss before brushing, this step is a must anyway to avoid unpleasant tastes in your mouth.
Step 2: Rinse the toothbrush before brushing
Remove any debris on your toothbrush with warm water before brushing.
There is often residue from toothpaste that you may have forgotten.
Just hold the brush under the jet for a few seconds. After that, you can also start brushing.
Personally, I have a dry mouth especially in the morning, so I always moisten the bristles with water anyway.
Step 3: Clean again after brushing
After brushing, rinse your manual toothbrush until all toothpaste residue and impurities end up in the drain
It’s best to shake the brush a few more times afterward to make sure it’s not too wet, and then set it aside.
Special features of electric toothbrushes:
For electric toothbrushes & sonic toothbrushes, you can first hold the running brush under water (be careful not to splash) and then remove the brush head to make it easier to clean.
Clean the handpiece after brushing, too. Just about all available devices are water-resistant and can withstand such a procedure.
I have not yet been able to detect any wear of the plug-in mechanism or water damage, even after years of use (for more information, see the test comparison of Philips and Braun variants).
Some electric sonic toothbrushes, such as the Sonicare Flexcare Platinum, also have UV cleaners that allow you to clean the attachment brushes without much effort. The benefits aren’t clearly proven by studies, but might be worth considering.
With proper care, you prevent calcification and other functional defects that can result from contamination.
Step 4: Store the toothbrush properly
Maybe you own a storage box* or similar and store the brush there. This may be quite handy when traveling.
According to ADA, however, the storage box is not the optimal place for a toothbrush. Bacteria multiply especially in damp, warm and dark places, which is why it’s best to store the brush head in the “fresh air.”
In a jar, the toothbrush dries optimally.
You can put your manual toothbrush in an ordinary jar or a toothbrush container. This way the brush dries optimally.
If you like to have order in your bathroom, you can purchase special holders. Advantageous I find especially that these are space-saving.
Electric brushes as well as ultrasonic toothbrushes can be placed upright without a container and left to air dry normally.
Step 5: Change your toothbrush regularly
Even if you follow all the steps above, you will need to replace your toothbrush at some point
This is necessary not only because of germ contamination, but also because the bristles wear out over time. That makes for reduced cleaning power and can affect dental health.
Tip: Change your you your toothbrush at least every 3 to 4 months. For electric toothbrushes, simply replace the brush head.
Many Germans are in this respect still „Zahnpflegemuffel“, which is why I recommend that you really pay close attention to the period of use.
- After an illness or infection, you should replace the brush immediately to prevent further contagions in the household.
- For people with weak immune systems, it is advisable to possibly change the toothbrush more often in case of illness, provided the cost is not a problem.
For healthy people, this is not necessary. It is possible that you then benefit from a lower number of bacteria however, this is not scientifically proven clearly.
To make it easy for you to stick to the five steps, I recommend that it’s best to make them part of your daily cleaning routine.
- You might also want to add an appointment to your calendar so that you really do change your toothbrush on time.
- As I said, the immune system of a healthy person protects against germs in normal numbers. For cleaning the brush, I think special means for disinfection or “tricks” such as a clean in the dishwasher or microwave not necessary.
- Do not share your own toothbrush with other people either. Even if you should not be disgusted by it, you risk an increased risk of transmission of diseases by sharing.
As long as you follow the above 5 steps, you will ensure ideal hygiene of your toothbrush, and can improve your dental cleaning and care.