I am Dentist in Tigard OR and I recommend brushing your teeth twice a day, but there are 9 places that I would never leave my toothbrush when I am done. Some of the places are obvious ones and ones that you have heard of before, but some of the places might surprise you. Many of these places I have experienced myself or have heard from my own patients.
1. Near the toilet. We have been told many times that the bacteria found in or around the toilet has been isolated on a toothbrush that has been even just 8 feet away from the guilty toilet. This is true! You should avoid leaving your toothbrush out in the open around any flush able toilet. You are asking for an unleashing of a barrage of poo particles or bacteria into the air that will undoubtedly find their way onto your toothbrush. A good rule is to not leave your toothbrush out in the open in a bathroom or to always close the lid when flushing the toilet.
2. In the reach of young children. This is always dangerous for any item as young children are curious and not certain what a particular item is used for. Myself having 3 children, I have found my toothbrush in many mysterious places where I know I had not left it. For example, I have found my toothbrush in the garage, under the couch, in the pantry, and even outside. So if you have young kids and don’t want to go on a crazy scavenger hunt for you toothbrush or you are afraid of where you could find it, keep it hidden.
3. Next to your sink or disposal. Now this is similar to leaving your toothbrush next to the toilet. We do a lot of things in the sink besides just wash dishes. I have seen dogs, cats, kids bathed in the sink, dirty diapers (non-disposables) rinsed out in the sink, and not to mention moldy old food is disposed of down the sink. If you brush your teeth at the sink and leave your toothbrush next to the sink you might want to think twice as the bacteria, fecal matter, and other substances placed in the sink are more than likely to make their way onto your toothbrush. Best advice is to keep the toothbrush somewhere else or place in a drawer near the sink if it has to be used to brush your teeth.
4. Near a trash can. There are so many reasons not to leave your toothbrush near a trash can. First of all someone might mistake it as trash and throw it away and if you have an electric toothbrush this could be very costly. We also dispose of just about everything you can think of in the trashcan which also means that there is the potential that some of the gross stuff we throw away is going to make it onto your toothbrush. The only time I would consider leaving my toothbrush near the trash can is if I am brushing Oscar the Grouch’s teeth.
5 Anywhere near a pet. I will be the first to say that I love animals, but the thought of sharing my toothbrush with my dog or cat who cleans their private areas with their tongue, grosses me out! If you don’t want your pet sniffing, licking or chewing up your toothbrush then make sure to put it in a place that they won’t be able to access. I have had more than one patient tell me that their brand new hundred dollar Sonicare toothbrush was destroyed by their dog, so find a safe hiding spot if you know your dog might think that expensive toothbrush is a chew toy.
6. Near cleaning supplies. Cleaning supplies contain many chemicals that can be extremely harmful to our bodies. They also contain germs and grim that they have been used to clean. If you were to leave your toothbrush in the vicinity of these cleaning supplies you are increasing the likelihood that the germs and chemicals will find their way onto your toothbrush. Some people even use a toothbrush to clean hard to reach areas and the grout in their tile. Make sure not to mistake that toothbrush as the same one you are using to clean your teeth.
7. In your shower. It is very convenient to leave a toothbrush and toothpaste in the shower. You can brush your teeth while you wash your body or shampoo your hair. You can even leave the toothbrush in the shower and return there to brush your teeth every time you take a shower. This might seem like a smart or multi tasking but take a look at the shampoo bottles, the bar of soap or even the drain in the shower. If you leave your toothbrush in the shower those things are also on your toothbrush, which means soap scum, that slimy film that coats everything, and even those short and curlies that get trapped in the drain. If you don’t want to brush your teeth with the same soap you wash your body, don’t leave it in the shower.
8. In your car. I wouldn’t say this if I hadn’t seen it before. Now I condone brushing your teeth twice a day or as much as you possibly can, but driving while brushing your teeth can be distracting and potentially dangerous. Also leaving a toothbrush in the car leaves open the opportunity that the toothbrush will find its way onto the floor or in areas of the car that might not be a sanitary. I recommend maybe leaving your toothbrush at home or at your destination that way you can really focus on brushing those pearly whites and on the road while you are driving.
9. In your gym locker. I played football and soccer throughout high school and even into college and can tell you the smells that come from some of my teammate’s lockers was not pleasant! I can remember them throwing sweaty undergarments, used towels, and even muddy cleats into their lockers. Can you imagine if they had a toothbrush at the bottom at that pile? It makes me cringe just thinking about brushing my teeth with that toothbrush. If you brush your teeth at the gym after a hard workout, keep your toothbrush in a separate bag and transport it back and forth. Nobody wants their breath to smell like a sweaty gym locker so don’t leave it your toothbrush there.
These a just 9 places I wouldn’t leave my toothbrush and I am sure you can think of more. If you can think of more leave your suggestions in the comments. Remember that oral hygiene is incredibly important, but where you keep your toothbrush is also just as important!