Do I mean that is possible on a toothbrush? Very much so! You can see the mold as a varying degree of black spots, or you may not see it at all, depending on the species of mold. Obviously, nobody likes to brush with a moldy toothbrush, but what can you do to prevent this? First thing that comes to mind is to disinfect / sterilize the toothbrush after each use. The problem with this method; is that every time you use the toothbrush you are introducing many forms of microorganism to the tooth brush and you have to do this practice after each use. In my opinion, it is not worth the steps of buying the equipment and materials to achieve toothbrush sterilization after each use. We can be smart and prevent the growth of bacteria and mold on the bristles of our toothbrush by depriving them of the most essential ingredient for their survival: water.
No, I don’t mean by holding a blow dryer to the toothbrush after you use it. You can do that, if you like; however, by leaving the toothbrush outside in Southern California’s climate for a sufficient duration of time would be sufficient to achieve this task without effort.
A few caveats for this method:
- It takes time for a toothbrush to air dry at normal room temperature after being completely wet.
- It takes time for the dryness to kill the bacteria and mold at this temperature without additional effort.
Therefore, you need to consider the following factors so that this complete drying of the bristles occurs for sufficient time.
Remember that after bristles get wet, it may take up to 12-16 hours for the bristles to get dry enough to destroy the living organisms that were picked up from your mouth and the environment. Therefore, if you are keeping your toothbrush in the shower, and another person uses the same shower after a few hours, the re-wetting of the toothbrush will not allow complete desiccation until you use it the next time. This scenario is very common when more than one person uses a shower and the toothbrushes are kept in that area. Additionally, if you use the same toothbrush two to three times a day, you may not be allowing enough time for total drying.
What is the solution?
- If you brush more than once a day, use more than one toothbrush. Two toothbrushes for two times, three brushes for three times a day. So don’t use any single one more than once every 24 hours.
- After you are done with brushing and rinsing it, store the toothbrush in an open space, not in its case or box, in an area that will not get sprayed with water or exposed to steam for twenty four hours.
- Another factor, is aging of the bristles. As the brush gets old and bristles start flaring, they become porous and more vulnerable and suitable for bacterial and mold growth. So, switching your toothbrush when half of the bristles have flared, not only makes your brushing more efficient, but also reduces the chances of microorganism growth.
The above is true for both manual and electrical brushes.
Parsa T. Zadeh, DDS, MAGD, FICOI