Saturday, December 11, 2010

Is Your toothbrush Making You Sick?

Answer.... Maybe
I will list some guidelines and recommended products at the bottom of this post, but first let's look at what we know:
·         Your mouth is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, and so is your toothbrush.
·         6 billion microbes live in your mouth. reprint
·         6 hundred species of microbes live in your mouth. reprint
·         60 million bacteria live on the average toothbrush.
·         Most people keep their toothbrush in their bathroom.
·         Your bathroom is one of the filthiest rooms in your house.
·         Fecal plumes from flushing your toilet can stay in the air for 2 hours and can travel more than 6 feet.
·         Fecal bacteria however  are everywhere in your house, and will find your toothbrush. Mythbusters video
·         Toothbrushes are not required to be sterile, and when you open a new package, it will likely already be infected with bacteria.
·         Some bacteria will  enter  the bloodstream from tooth brushing and flossing.
·         Toothbrush bristles fray after as little as 2 weeks and can begin to cause micro tears in the gum allowing more bacteria to penetrate your bloodstream.
·         Many more bacteria enter the bloodstream when people do not regularly brush and floss.
·         85% of adults have some gum disease. AAP
·         People with gum disease are at greater risk of diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke. reprint
·         Sonic toothbrushes break down Biofilm and result in healthier gums and teeth. reprint
·         It is virtually impossible to sterilize a toothbrush regularly without ruining it.
·         Ultraviolet units kill 99.99% of germs, while steam units claim to kill 99.9999% of germs, but their effect on the longevity of a toothbrush is in question.
·         Rinsing a brush with tap water and leaving it to air dry kills most of the germs but exposes it to more germs from the air.
·         Keeping a wet toothbrush in a sealed container allows bacteria to multiply.
·         Bacteria can live up to 6 weeks on a toothbrush, and viruses can live longer.
·         Most of the claims for the need to sterilize a toothbrush come from the manufacturers of disinfecting products.
·         Mouthwash can kill 99.99% of germs
·         Hand washing and sanitizers can kill 99.99% of germs
·         The American Dental Association and The Centers for Disease Control do not advocate the use of sanitizers for the average healthy person.
·         Cross contamination from toothpaste ,and toothbrushes  touching  each other or another contaminated  surface does spread diseases.

Many people that may benefit from added precautions include:
  • People with compromised immune system
  • HIV
  • Young children
  • Elderly and debilitated
  • Cancer victims
  • Anyone undergoing treatment for immune diseases and taking medication that lowers resistance
  • People with recent joint replacement or surgery
  • People with general poor health
  • People with poor nutrition
  • Diabetics
  • People with poor circulation
  • People with heart disease or, strokes
  • Pregnant women.
  • Anyone concerned about germs

1.       Disinfect your floss container and toothpaste tube daily , and give each person their own.
2.       Wash and/or disinfect your hands before brushing and flossing.
3.       Rinse your mouth with a disinfecting mouthwash for 30 seconds before brushing or flossing.
4.       Brush (2 minutes) and floss according to your dentists recommendations.
5.       Rinse your brush off in hot tap water, then immerse your toothbrush in a disinfecting mouthwash for 30 seconds.
6.       Place in an ultraviolet or steam disinfection device and activate.
7.       Replace your toothbrush  often...every 3 months or sooner.

Products to consider

·         Powered 

·         Standard
  •         any                        
Toothpaste fluoride:
  •    any
Toothpaste fluoride free:
  • waxed any

Sanitizers or toothbrush containers should not put the brush in a solution with other brushes, or seal in where the brush cannot dry out. Any device that places the brush bristles down is not recommended.

Discalimer. Though I do sell Sonicare brushes directly to my patients, I do not make any royalties from of any products listed.

Your comments are welcome.

Phillip C. Neal DDS
Crystal Lake Dental Associates
280 B Memorial Court
Crystal Lake Illinois,  60014
815 459 2202

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About Me

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Born in the Midwest. Married with 6 children and 3 grandchildren. Attended Maine West High School, Harper Jr College, Northern Illinois University, the University of Illinois College of Dentistry. Practice in Crystal Lake, Illinois.