Today's Quote

“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Health of Your Toothbrush

Most of the time we brush our teeth, rinse our toothbrush, and set it on the counter or place in a holder on the counter until next time. Many times our counter is very near our toilet. Hmmmmm. Is that good? Well no it isn't. First you remove bacteria from your mouth and place it on your toothbrush. A simply rinse in cold water does nothing but make this bacteria laugh, as they continue to multiply by the bucket loads. Next, we use the bathroom and flush the toilet-with the lid open. Thus sending into the air of our bathroom all of the bacteria and germs we just placed into our toilet. The bacteria now airborn does what? That's right it lands on every surface of your bathroom including your toothbrush that you will be sticking back into your mouth tonight. Now that I have thoroughly grossed you out, let me give you some of the biology behind all of this in the hopes that you have a future mouth free from yuck! There is a reason that toilet seats have lids on them. During the flushing process many bacteria become airborne and in the process have the ability to travel 6 feet in any direction from your toilet. This means that they land on every surface in your bathroom. Including your toothbrush, which happens to be a great place for bacteria to grow. The bristles of the brush are closely set and therefore hold moisture for quite some time. You bathroom is also an ideal breeding ground for bacteria in that it is a warm environment and tends to be moist. We also tend not to consider that all of the bacteria we remove from our mouths in the brushing process is then placed on the toothbrush. A cold water rinse will not remove nor kill any of this bacteria. So it spends the next several hours breeding and then you place all of that bacteria back into your mouth, while adding more to the toothbrush for next time round. When I was in college one of our assignments in my Microbiology lab was to take swabs from anywhere around campus we wished and then to grow cultures of those swabs. Basically we were to collect bacteria and grow it in a controlled environment. I took swabs of many places around campus including the inside of a horse stall at the barn and my toothbrush which was supposedly clean and ready for use. Guess which one grew the best bacterial culture? My toothbrush. Needless to say I was pretty grossed out. It would have been cleaner had I licked the inside of the barn than to put that toothbrush into my mouth. There are several things that you can do outside of using a brand new toothbrush each and every time you brush, which could get quite costly. First, you can keep your toothbrush in a drawer instead of on the counter. Second you can keep the lid closed on the toilet when you flush. Third always wash your hands after using the bathroom, even your own. And fourth, the last time that you brush your teeth for the day, place your toothbrush bristle side down in a small glass with a small amount of hydrogen peroxide in it. This will kill any and all bacteria from the days brushing and leave you with a fresh clean and bacteria free toothbrush to start the day in the morning. When you take your toothbrush out of the glass, rinse it well before brushing your teeth. Also empty the glass and get a fresh one each day. Taking these simple steps will keep your teeth, mouth and toothbrush clean and bacteria free. Happy brushing!

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