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 unhealthy. 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 replaced. 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 everyday. 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.

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