Do you know what's lurking on your toothbrush?
Your toothbrush is loaded with germs, say researchers at England’s University of Manchester. They’ve found that one uncovered toothbrush can harbor more than 100 million bacteria, including E. coli bacteria, which can cause diarrhea, and staphylococci (“staph”) bacteria that cause skin infections.
But don’t panic. Your mouth wasn’t exactly sterile to begin with.
“The bottom line is, there are hundreds of microorganisms in our mouths every day,” says Gayle McCombs, RDH, MS, associate professor and director of the Dental Hygiene Research Center at Old Dominion University. That’s no big deal. Problems only start when there is an unhealthy balance of bacteria in the mouth.
It’s important to remember that plaque — the stuff you’re removing from your teeth — is bacteria. Fortunately, the human body is usually able to defend itself from bacteria.
So we aren’t aware of any real evidence that sitting the toothbrush in your bathroom in the toothbrush holder is causing any real damage or harm. Still, you should exercise some common sense about storing your toothbrush, including how close it is to the toilet.
Most bathrooms are small. And in many homes, the toilet is pretty close to the bathroom sink where you keep your toothbrush. Every toilet flush sends a spray of bacteria into the air. And you don’t want the toilet spray anywhere near your open toothbrush. “You don’t store your plates and glasses by the toilet, so why would you want to place your toothbrush there?” “It’s just common sense to store your toothbrush as far away from the toilet as possible.” You also wouldn’t eat after going to the bathroom without first washing your hands. The same advice applies before brushing your teeth.
Once you’ve moved your toothbrush away from the toilet, here are a few other storage tips to keep your brush as germ-free as possible: