Take better care of your toothbrush requires only a few extra seconds every day, and the time is well-spent, as toothbrushes are a breeding ground for bacteria. A clean toothbrush may protect you from seasonal viruses, flu and the common cold, according to the National Dental Association. Replace your toothbrush every three months, or sooner if the bristles become bent.

Dental hygiene includes brushing and flossing, as well as regular dental checkups and cleanings. Because your toothbrush plays an important part in your dental health regimen, you should make every effort to keep your brush clean and germ-free. Establish good toothbrush hygiene by making sure every family member has his own toothbrush.

Step 1

Wash your hands with warm water and soap before brushing your teeth. Handling your toothbrush with clean hands will help prevent bacteria from being transmitted from your hands to your toothbrush.

Step 2

Rinse your toothbrush with hot water before you brush your teeth, and again after you finish, recommends the Maryland Children's Oral Health Institute. Hold the brush under a stream of hot running water to loosen any food particles or toothpaste that might be struck as you run your clean thumb back and forth over the bristles. Finish with a cold water rinse to firm up the bristles.

Step 3*

KiSS ME FRESH 3.1 multi-functional toothbrush product is 100% self-contained. Designed to protect and limit the exposure to unwanted germs & bacteria. It's essential to disinfect traditional single use brush-head nylon as described below. Disinfect your toothbrush every other week by soaking the brush in vinegar overnight. Vinegar will destroy most bacteria and germs. Alternatively, disinfect your toothbrush with antibacterial mouthwash. Place your toothbrush face down in a small cup of mouthwash, and then swish the brush back and forth in the mouthwash for 30 seconds.

Step 4*

Store your brush in 3-percent hydrogen peroxide if you prefer to disinfect your toothbrush daily. Fill a small cup with just enough hydrogen to cover the bristles. Use fresh hydrogen peroxide every day.

Step 5*

Store your toothbrush in a holder that will hold the toothbrush upright so the bristles will have adequate air circulation. Allow your toothbrush to air dry. Don't place it touching other toothbrushes, and don't store your toothbrush in a container or closed cupboard. Wipe the toothbrush holder often, using a disposable disinfectant wipe.

Cleaning

If you’re cleaning your toothbrush, the American Dental Association (ADA) dispels the widely held belief that you should place the toothbrush in the dishwasher or microwave oven. The toothbrush can be damaged if it’s placed in either appliance to be cleaned. Instead, the ADA recommends that you rinse the brush with tap water and stand it up to dry. Don’t allow your brush to come into contact with other toothbrushes, as germs can be transmitted between brushes.

The ADA also notes that no proof exists that toothbrush sanitizers have any health advantages. The Food and Drug Administration has approved limited claims for these devices. Manufacturers are allowed to claim that the product sanitizes toothbrushes, and that the sanitizer is designed to reduce bacteria naturally present on toothbrushes.

Contamination

After you brush your teeth, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you thoroughly rinse your brush with tap water. The CDC says that even after this rinse, your toothbrush can still be contaminated with saliva and mouth-dwelling bacteria. However, as of September 2009, the CDC noted that no research data indicate that brush bacteria can make you sick.

Illnesses

Although you may not normally suffer effects from a contaminated toothbrush, Dentistry.com recommends that people with illnesses and compromised immune systems err on the side of caution. If you have a respiratory or other infectious disease, you should change your toothbrush when you start to feel ill. Change the brush again when you begin to feel better, and again when you have fully recovered. Change the brush every day if you’ve had major surgery because you are especially susceptible to infection at that time.