During the winter months we are constantly reminded to wash our hands and cover our mouths when we sneeze to prevent the spreading of germs–especially those related to colds and the flu. It is equally important to pay attention to your toothbrush as well, as germs and bacteria can collect there. The following oral health tips can keep you from spreading the flu.
Replace your toothbrush often–every two to three months. Get a new brush at the start of an illness and always replace your brush after a cold or flu. This is because viruses and bacteria can live on a toothbrush for a few hours up to a few days and have the potential to re-infect the user.
Sterilize your toothbrush, especially if someone in your home is sick. Using the kitchen dishwasher is a way to sterilize a toothbrush. Put the brush in the silverware basket when you run a load of dishes. Cleaning your toothbrush is also a good habit to adopt year-round.
Store your toothbrush away from others in the house, use a toothbrush cover if possible, and always store it upright. Airborne bacteria can move easily from toothbrush to toothbrush, so any way you can limit contact with other toothbrushes is beneficial. Also remember that the tube of toothpaste contacts the bristles so germs can spread from one person to another this way. When you’re sick, it is a good idea to use travel toothpaste or squirt the toothpaste onto your clean finger and then apply to your toothbrush.
Wash hands before and after brushing. Bacteria from your hands and food particles from your mouth are unavoidable, but washing your hands – before AND after – can help prevent oral inflammatory disease caused by these kinds of bacteria.
Dr. John Paul Gallardo is a renowned periodontist and dental implant specialist located in Miami, Florida. To learn more about oral and dental health or to schedule an appointment, call Gallardo & Lamas Periodontics and Implant Dentistry at (305) 447-1447.