Should you throw away your toothbrush after the flu?

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sensitive34The New Year has begun and cold and flu season is upon us, once again. This means that you should probably throw away that old toothbrush or toothbrush head and invest in a new one once you have recovered.

The British Dental Health association recommends patients getting a new toothbrush every three months, because of the wear and tear of the bristles and germs collected.  Some people need to throw away their brush more often depending on how frequently they brush their teeth and the condition of the bristles.  When the bristles start to splay in different direction, it’s time to throw out that old brush.

As far as the germs go, once you’ve been infected with a particular strain of a virus, you develop antibodies that make the likelihood of reinfection very low.  Even if the virus is still hanging around on your toothbrush after you have recovered from that dreaded cold and flu, it can still survive on the brush in an infective state for anywhere from a few hours to three days, those antibodies should keep you from contracting the same illness twice.  Therefore, your toothbrush is no more dangerous while you’re still sick, since the viral load on the bristles is negligible compared with what is already in your system.

It is possible to be re-infected with bacteria, however.If you were infected with strep throat, a colony of streptococcal bacteria might end up on your toothbrush and remain there long enough to give you a second case after you’d taken a course of antibiotics.  That threat can be reduced by toothpaste, which sometimes contains antibacterial compounds.

You can make sure that your toothbrush remains clean by rinsing the bristles out in tap water after use and making sure it is stored upright after use.  This is extremely important because this allows the water to drain from the bristles and all the water and particles collect at the bottom of the handle of the toothbrush.

Never store your toothbrush in a cupboard or container where the air can’t get to it.

It is essential to make sure that your children wash their hands with soap, for approximately 20 seconds.  You can make this more fun by timing them using a musical app.

How often do you change your toothbrush or toothbrush head?  Share your thoughts on our facebook page.

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