It’s common practice to throw away a toothbrush after catching a cold to prevent viruses from spreading. While precautions like this can keep your family safe, constantly replacing a brand new toothbrush is costly and wasteful.
Just think about how many brushes a person disposes in a year. If you get a new one every three months, you’ll be throwing away over 300 toothbrushes in a lifetime. Multiply that to millions doing the same every day, and what we have is a landfill of non-recyclable plastic dental products that will outlive us and leave detrimental effects for generations to come. Worse, they can end up in oceans where they disintegrate and release toxic chemicals that poison marine life and water sources.
Pretty destructive for something so small, right? That’s something to think about the next time you use a disposable brush.
One way to minimize toothbrush waste is to disinfect it. Sterilizing a fairly new toothbrush can get rid of disease-causing bacteria so that you can use it for a longer time.
Safe and effective ways to clean your toothbrush
Disinfecting your toothbrush is advisable if you live with other people and store your toothbrush in a shared space. Researchers from the Quinnipiac University found that there’s a higher likelihood of fecal matter ending up on your brush if placed near other people’s stuff or close to a toilet. Sanitizing is also recommended to frequent travelers whose personal belongings are kept in dark, damp bags where germs easily thrive.
Soaking in mouthwash
Submerging the toothbrush head in antibacterial mouthwash for several minutes can kill germs left between the bristles. To make sure they’re safe, consider brands with natural ingredients and check the antiseptic capacities of your choice to make sure it can do its job.
Using a UV toothbrush sanitizer
Perhaps the easiest way to clean your toothbrush is by drying it inside a UV sanitizer. It works by exposing the bristles under germicidal ultraviolet-C light, which can eliminate deadly viruses in a matter of minutes. What’s great about UV toothbrush sanitizers is that they’re safe on human skin, and they don’t use water, soap, alcohol, or chemicals to remove bacteria. Some models even come in travel size so that you can bring your own toothbrush anywhere instead of relying on disposable ones when you’re away from home.
Harmful toothbrush sanitizing methods
Despite the availability of convenient toothbrush cleaning methods, some still use damaging ways that mostly involve heat.
Unless you know the softening point of your toothbrush, you should avoid placing it in the dishwasher or in boiling water, as this may melt plastic parts. Microwaves can also be potentially dangerous, because some toothbrushes use metal wires to put the bristles in place.
Flu season or not, keeping our surroundings and personal belongings clean is a responsibility we owe to ourselves and our family. But we have a bigger responsibility to our health and the health of our environment, which is a great reason to be more mindful of our choices.
MOUTHFUL strives to promote better understanding of sustainable dental health and oral hygiene practices. While we seek credible sources and cite them in our posts, this article does not intend to stand as professional advice. Please reach out to your dentist or a medical expert if you have questions regarding a health condition or treatment.