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Medical Mythbuster: Can Your Toothbrush Make You Sick?

According to researchers, the answer is yes. A single toothbrush can harbor over a million bacteria if not cared for properly. Germs that can thrive on toothbrushes can include the flu virus, staph bacteria, yeast fungus, E.coli and strep viruses. Fortunately, most of these germs won’t break through the body’s defenses. The reason a toothbrush can harbor so many germs is that bathrooms are often moist and steamy, and offer an ideal environment for germs to grow.

To reduce the risk of germs on your toothbrush, follow these tips:

  • Wash your hands before and after brushing.
  • Change your toothbrush every three months, sooner if you are sick.
  • Try using two toothbrushes and alternate them so they can dry completely before use.
  • Store your brush away from the toilet, and close the lid before flushing.
  • Rinse your toothbrush thoroughly after use with hot water. For more effectiveness, submerge in hydrogen peroxide or alcohol-based mouthwash.

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