Are Bacteria Hiding on Your Toothbrush?

Consider the germs you may be putting into your mouth

Credits: Engin_Akyurt at
Edited By:
Raja Sivamani , MD, MS, AP

Although we brush our teeth twice a day, our mouth is home to an extensive microbiome filled with bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It’s been studied that our toothbrush is home to over 10 million bacteria! To have a healthy mouth, there needs to be a balance between good and bad microorganisms. Maintaining good oral hygiene is important to keep this balance and prevent diseases. With that being said, your toothbrush plays a vital role in oral cleanliness and you should be attentive to how it affects your mouth.


Bacteria and Biofilm

There are many types of bacteria living in your mouth, and their presence can be seen through biofilm. Biofilm is a slimy substance created by bacteria when they become too numerous and want to adhere to your teeth. The yellow build-up on your teeth, known as dental plaque, is the biofilm that the bacteria created. This plaque is what causes tooth decay and periodontal diseases. Since your toothbrush is physically brushing off this bacteria from your teeth, it is considered to be a potential source of infections and reinfections in your mouth and body.


Taking Care of Your Toothbrush

There are a few things you can do with your toothbrush to keep brushing as healthy as possible:

  • First, replacing your toothbrush every 3 months is recommended by the American Dental Association.
  • You should also immediately replace your toothbrush after being sick to avoid getting sick again from the same virus if it happens to be still be lurking around.
  • Storing your toothbrush away from your toilet is also recommended. When you flush, there are bacteria released into the air that could contaminate your bristles so be sure to close the toilet before flushing.
  • Make sure that you are not storing your toothbrush in a closed container because it promotes more bacteria growth than being exposed to open air.
  • To get rid of possible bacteria, it has been proven that soaking your toothbrush in mouthwash such as Listerine can reduce the bacterial load by 85%.
  • The type of toothbrush you use can also reduce the number of bacteria on your bristles. It has been proven that electric toothbrushes are better at lowering plaque levels and gingival bleeding.
  • For extra disinfection, you can buy a portable UV sanitizing case to store your toothbrush. Using UV rays is an effective way of reducing bacterial count.
  • Antimicrobial toothbrushes such as the Boie USA Toothbrush have embedded silver particles which inhibit the growth of bacteria.

Maintaining oral hygiene is an everyday task that many of us don’t think about regularly. Taking these extra steps can improve your oral health and help keep away germs that cause oral diseases as well as illnesses.

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