Don’t let your toothbrush make you sick during this cold and flu season
Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 8:00 pm
The 2012-13 influenza season started early and activity remains high in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC recommends getting the flu vaccine and taking everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.
Toothbrushes can spread the flu virus. Delta Dental of Tennessee recommends taking a few simple steps to keep your toothbrush germ-free.
“A toothbrush is a nice little incubator. When you think about using it in your mouth, you’ve got a warm, wet place that germs like,” said Phil Wenk, DDS, president and CEO of Delta Dental of Tennessee.
Dr. Wenk offers a few tips for making sure your own toothbrush doesn’t make you sick:
• Don’t share toothbrushes; everyone should have their own.
• Replace your toothbrush every four months because toothbrushes wear out and don’t clean as effectively once the bristles become worn down. But if you do get sick, replace your toothbrush right away.
• Sterilize your toothbrush once per week. You can place your toothbrushes in the microwave for 30 seconds or run it through the dishwasher one time.
• Store your toothbrush away from others and don’t share toothpaste. Airborne bacteria can be shared between toothbrushes stored near each other in warm, moist environments like the bathroom. You also can avoid cross-contamination of germs by giving each member of the family their own tube of toothpaste and using an individual travel size container when someone is sick.
• Wash your hands before and after brushing. Anytime the hands are near the mouth, they can transfer bacteria.
Delta Dental of Tennessee, with its affiliates in Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina and Ohio collectively are among the largest dental plan administrators in the nation. In 2011, the enterprise paid out $2.5 billion for dental treatment for nearly 10.4 million enrollees. Offices are located in Nashville, Knoxville and Memphis; Sherwood and Little Rock, Ark.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Louisville, Ky.; Okemos and Farmington Hills, Mich.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Raleigh and Charlotte, N.C.; and Columbus and Cleveland.
Published in The Messenger 2.6.13
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, change toothbrush