Old Toothbrushes Can Make You Sick
Posted on Friday, June 17th, 2011
Quick!: How old is your toothbrush or brush head?
If you’re like most people, you probably don’t know. And if you don’t know, it’s probably time to get a new one.
We all should change our toothbrushes every three months or risk potentially serious oral health problems, says Dr. Nigel Carter of the British Dental Health Foundation.
Over the years, numerous studies have reported the toothbrush to be the cause of repeated infection in the mouth. Not only able to grow and reproduce on the bristles of the brush, the bacteria also have the ability to transmit organisms responsible for diseases throughout the body.
“They may seem like a rather insignificant tool but they form a crucial part of our daily routine and although most toothbrushes are used twice a day for months on end, they are rarely cleaned thoroughly and are often kept in warm, moist conditions, ideal for bacterial growth,” says Dr Carter.
“Despite this, there is little public awareness that the bristles may become contaminated by either the hundreds of microorganisms thriving in the mouth or the many thousands living in the environment.
“It is so simple,” he adds, “but by replacing a toothbrush more often, we can prevent a lot of unnecessary illness and disease. The strongest argument to change your toothbrush regularly is to prevent re-infection following the flu or a cold. A dirty toothbrush can also be responsible for many ear, nose and throat infections.”
Not only is it simple, it’s cheap: a few dollars per person, per year – even less if you get freebies from your dentist at your semiannual checkups.
Image by Joseph Cote, via Flickr
Adapted from British Dental Health Foundation media release