Oct 16, 2020
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Can I boil someone else’s toothbrush?

Sharing a toothbrush with another person is always a bad idea. Brushes are designed to remove microbes from the mouth, not exchange them. But what happens if you boil someone else's brush before use? Then it will be clean and usable?

A toothbrush is not for nothing a personal hygiene item. If you brush your teeth with someone else's brush, you can get serious problems, including:

  • Blood-borne diseases. When we brush our teeth, our gums can bleed, hence the risk of getting a lot of infections on the brush. This is how, for example, hepatitis B is transmitted.

  • Viruses. By sharing your toothbrush with others, you significantly increase your risk of contracting the herpes virus or human papillomavirus. Some strains of the latter are highly oncogenic, that is, they can lead to the development of cancer.

  • Bacteria and fungi. A lot of microorganisms accumulate on the brushes, which should not be exchanged once again. Tooth decay, for example, is caused by the bacteria Streptococcus mutans, a common inhabitant of dirty toothbrushes.

  • Pieces of food. If someone else's brush is poorly rinsed, food particles may remain in it. This can be a problem if you are allergic.

When we kiss, we exchange saliva. When you use a toothbrush, a lot of bacteria get into your bloodstream as well as your mouth. Rubbing foreign bacteria with a stiff bristle (and they are present in high concentration on brushes) into the gums is not the best way to get closer to someone.

Sterilizing your brush at home can significantly reduce your risk of contamination with bacteria and viruses, but it does not guarantee you complete safety. If you forget to take your brush on a visit or on a trip, it is better to use your own finger once than ask your partner for the brush. Just remember to wash your hands with soap and water first.

Nevertheless, knowledge of the rules for sterilizing toothbrushes will not be superfluous for anyone. After all, this is an important step in the care of the instrument that you put in your mouth twice a day.

Do not boil your brushes to sterilize them. Boiling water can damage the brush itself and the bristles. A microwave oven or dishwasher won't work either. The best way to disinfect is to leave the brush head in a glass of mouthwash containing alcohol for a few minutes. If you don't have a suitable rinse aid, dissolve 2 teaspoons of baking soda in a glass of water and dip the brush into it. Vinegar is also suitable for disinfection (soak a brush in it overnight) or a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution.

You should sterilize your own brush before use, even if no one else uses it, at least once a week. But don't store your brush in sterilizing solution! Even in an antibacterial agent, germs can develop over time.

It's no secret that the bathroom is one of the dirtiest in the house. It is always humid there, and the soapy coating on the tiles is a favorite food for many bacteria and microscopic fungi (yes, we are talking about mold). If your bathroom is combined, that is, it contains not only a bathtub, but also a toilet bowl, do not forget: every time you press the flush, the bathroom is filled with millions of intestinal bacteria.

Therefore, do not leave your brush on a sink or other open area. Even the cap will not save, it will only make your brush wet for a long time, which is good for bacteria. After use, the brush should be thoroughly rinsed first with hot and then cold water (cold water will help inhibit the growth of microbes) and put to dry vertically in a glass in a closed cabinet. This will keep the brush relatively clean and dry (fig. 1).

Figure 1. The brushes should be stored vertically in a glass so that they dry quickly. There must be a distance of 2-3 cm between the brushes. Source: Superkitina / Unsplash

The electric brush is more difficult to care for, it has more gaps where dirt can accumulate. Remove and rinse the brush head every time after use, dry the brush also disassembled.

You need to change your toothbrushes every 3-4 months, sometimes more often if you see that the bristles are too fluffy. Take care of your brush the same way it takes care of your teeth.

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