Cold and Flu Prevention Tips for your Mouth
Dr. John Luther, Chief Dental Officer
It’s cold and flu season again. Many people make it a priority to get a flu shot and always wash their hands to combat the seemingly constant viruses traveling through schools and workplaces. It is equally important to pay attention to your toothbrush to avoid spreading germs.
Here are some additional tips for keeping cold and flu viruses from spreading:
1. Replace your toothbrush often. Most people replace a toothbrush after four months of use, but it should be changed every two to three months and certainly when the bristles start to spread out. Always replace your brush after a cold or flu.
2. Sterilize your toothbrush. You should do this once or twice a week – especially if someone in your home is sick. You can do this by placing the toothbrush in boiling water or running it through the dishwasher - just put the brush in the silverware basket when you run a load of dishes. Dishwashers are the closest thing we have in our homes to the steam used in the dentist’s office. Cleaning your toothbrush is a good habit to adopt year-round, as there are plenty of germs and bacteria floating around the bathroom.
3. Store your toothbrush so it doesn’t touch other brushes. Use a toothbrush cover if possible, and always store the brush upright. Bacteria can move easily from toothbrush to toothbrush, so any way you can limit contact with other toothbrushes is beneficial. Also, remember that the tube of toothpaste contacts the bristles. That’s another way germs can spread from one person to another. When you’re sick, it is a good idea to use your own tube of toothpaste or squirt the toothpaste onto your clean finger and then apply to your toothbrush.
4. Wash hands before and after brushing. Bacteria from your hands and food particles from your mouth are unavoidable. Washing your hands – before AND after – can help prevent the spread of bacteria.
Good oral health is essential to overall health. Continue to brush and floss daily throughout cold and flu season as well as throughout the year!