Posted .

Note from Smiles Dental: This post was written by guest blogger and Smiles Dental mom, Monique Tindall. She hopes that by sharing her personal dental stories, other parents will understand the importance of dental health for their kids. Her articles take a look at the humorous side of teeth-brushing and dentist visits. Thanks for reading!

I can handle some kid clutter and messes around my home. I do encourage my kids to play in the dirt and to be kids. But there are some things that kick my germaphobic tendencies into overdrive. Like, I do not touch doors in public restrooms after washing my hands. I have been known to use “germ juice” (hand sanitizer) a bit while traveling. And I wipe down my phone and computer keyboard every week.

Recently I read an article about how flushing a toilet produces an aerosol effect — which is a cloud of tiny droplets containing fecal bacteria — that can travel far outside the toilet and land on your toothbrush. In January 2013 Dr. Mehmet Oz said toilet bacteria can travel up to 15 feet and can live on surfaces up to a week. Yuck!

Then I began to think about just washing hands, brushing hair or spraying perfume: Does this reach the tool that I put in my mouth to clean away food and bacteria, too? Not to mention the bacteria that live in our mouths. Rinsing the toothbrush just doesn’t get rid of the potentially harmful organisms living on it.

So, now I had a new concern that was sending me a little to the edge due to needing to find a way to keep my toothbrush clean.

Of course I turned to Google and Amazon. I was giddy with the results. There are a variety of covers, ultraviolet sanitizers and even easy home remedies to clean your toothbrush. Here are a few that I found most interesting.

Head Covers — These nifty little covers have thyme extract vapors — a natural antibacterial agent — that sterilize your toothbrush and protect it from aerosolized droplets. Steripods are a clip that with one hand can clip right over the head of your toothbrush. These are recommended to change every three months. Be sure to use a Sharpie and write on it the date that the head should be replaced so you don’t forget. Another brand is Dr. Tung’s snap-on cover with refills. These have little discs with the thyme vapors that you change out every two months. Not all covers are the same. Storing your toothbrush in an airtight container is not recommended as it can actually promote bacterial growth.

Ultraviolet Sanitizers — If you like to geek out a bit on technology, you’ll love ultraviolet sanitizers. There are a variety of systems that are designed to sanitize your toothbrush by using ultraviolet rays. Oral Sterile Clean makes a unit that is large enough for the family and is registered with the FDA. There are travel systems and electric toothbrushes with sanitizers built in. You can find many options and choices to fit your needs.

Home Remedies – Another option to purchasing a sanitizer is to use what you have around the house to keep your toothbrush fresh. One approach is to take a small glass with white vinegar in it and let the brush soak for up to 30 minutes. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant and will kill bacteria living on your toothbrush. Another option is to soak your toothbrush in a mixed solution of two teaspoons of baking soda combined with one cup of water. Stir and submerge the bristles for about 30 seconds. Finally, you can purchase an antibacterial mouthwash or just use hydrogen peroxide and soak your toothbrush.

One final thought about changing your toothbrush: The ADA recommends that consumers replace toothbrushes approximately every three to four months or sooner if the bristles become frayed with use. You should also change your toothbrush after having a cold or flu, mouth infection or sore throat, just to be safe.

Smiles!