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You Don't Have to Throw Away Your Toothbrush after You've Been Sick

July 27, 2015
Posted By: Dr. Russell D. Mann
toothbrush with toothpaste next to it

There is a myth that you should throw away your toothbrush after you’ve been sick. It’s actually safe to keep using the same toothbrush after an illness, but you should never share your toothbrush with anyone, sick or not.

When your body experiences illness, proteins called antibodies are produced by your body’s immune system. These antibodies can identify when the same bacteria or virus enters your body, and neutralize it. So, in other words, once the cause of the illness enters your body once, it’ll be recognized and stopped.

That being said, you should never share your toothbrush. The wet bristles are a breeding ground for bacteria; bacteria that your friend or family member may be immune to. Even if they haven’t been sick in the recent past, the bacteria can have a different effect on you since you don’t have the right antibodies yet.

Whether you like it or not, there are a lot of bacteria on your toothbrush, over 100 million according to a recent study. But you don’t need to worry because your mouth is also full of those same bacteria. There are 100-200 different species of bacteria in your mouth, and it’s about as dirty as an unwashed bathroom floor.

If you are ever worried about bacteria on your toothbrush, put it in some boiling hot water or hydrogen peroxide. Make sure you never store your toothbrush in a plastic container. This won’t allow the brush to dry and mold can grow. Wherever you’re storing it, check and see if it’s dried completely between brushes. That’s how you can know if it’s the right place for it.

Do your best to keep your toothbrush clean but try not to freak out. There is no way to avoid bacteria and germs completely. Make good choices, and your chances of staying healthy will be much greater.

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