You rely on it to promote oral health — but a toothbrush that is not properly maintained may house bacteria and viruses that transmit colds, flu, cold sores and other ailments. What to do for your toothbrush…
Give it a good home. When several toothbrushes are jumbled together, germs can migrate from brush to brush — so use a holder that keeps toothbrushes upright and separate. Place the holder at least six feet from the toilet — water particles can travel several feet with each flush. (Better yet, close the toilet lid before flushing.)
Keep it clean. Rinse the toothbrush well with running water after each use. Swish the bristles once daily in an antiseptic mouthwash that contains alcohol — and once a week, soak the toothbrush in the mouthwash for five minutes. Do not put toothbrushes in the microwave or dishwasher — high heat damages bristles.
Dry it off. Wet bristles are a breeding ground for bacteria. Dry your brush completely between uses, using a clean towel or blow-dryer on low heat or by leaving it exposed to air in a well-ventilated place. If you store your toothbrush in a medicine cabinet or in a toothbrush case or cover (even one labeled “antibacterial”), first dry it thoroughly.
Replace it regularly. Get a new toothbrush whenever bristles look frayed or splayed — or at least every three months. If you get sick, replace your toothbrush when you are well again so you don’t reinfect yourself.