Anything that has germs on it and makes contact with your eyes, nose, or mouth allows those germs to enter the body. Your toothbrush is something you put in your mouth every day, or at least it should be. It is important to keep it clean to avoid exposing your mouth and body to unwanted germs.
Rinsing, Drying, And Storing
After brushing your teeth, it is not enough to just tap the brush against the sink to remove excess water. You've just used your brush to remove plaque, bacteria and germs from your teeth and gums, so this icky stuff needs to be rinsed away. To remove germs, run the brush under warm tap water and rub a clean finger across the bristles to make sure the water reaches deep within them. Then you can tap it to remove excess water.
Your toothbrush need to dry between uses. Bacteria that cause gum disease are anaerobic, which means they thrive in a low-oxygen environment and die when exposed to air. So, if you allow your toothbrush to air dry between uses and avoid storing in a container or bag, you can kill germs. You can also use two different toothbrushes to make sure one dries out completely between uses.
You can also prevent the growth of anaerobic bacteria by storing your toothbrush upright with the bristles up and handle down. This allows any excess water to drain from the bristles. If you've ever looking at the bottom of your toothbrush holder, you'll notice a collection of scum on on it; you don't want this on your bristles, so make sure they are upright.
Using A Toothbrush Holder
A good toothbrush holder generally holds the toothbrushes upright and allows water to drain into the bottom. To keep your toothbrush as germ free as possible, choose a holder that does not allow one toothbrush to make contact with another. It not a good idea to use drinking glasses as toothbrush holders or lay your toothbrush on the counter when not in use. If someone in the family is sick and your toothbrush touches his or her brush, those germs are going into your mouth the next time you brush. Ick!
You should clean your toothbrush holder at least once a week as well. The excess moisture from your toothbrush gets on the holder, and if you keep putting your toothbrush back into the same place, it will inevitably pick up germs left behind from each use.
If you have questions about caring for your toothbrush and how often to get a new one, talk to a dentist like Dr. Scott Macpherson. He can recommend a good toothbrush for you and give you advice on proper toothbrush care.