Flu season has hit and dentists warn your toothbrush could be spreading bacteria and making your family sick.
“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 Dr. Phil Wenk, President and CEO of Delta Dental of Tennessee.
As surprising as it may seem, in some families, people share toothbrushes, which Dr. Wenk advises against.
“Everyone needs their own toothbrush,” he said.
It's something you probably haven't thought about but another way to spread germs is by keeping your toothbrush in the family toothbrush holder or cup.
“It's an area for saliva to go from one toothbrush to the next, so if I've got the flu I'm going to share it with everybody in that group,” Dr. Wenk explained.
According to Wenk, it's best to keep your toothbrush isolated, especially during flu season.
“You need to put it in a container of some type and you need to seal it and that's whether you are sick or not,” he said.
It's also a good idea to clean your toothbrush, just 30 seconds in the microwave or a cycle in the dishwasher should do the trick.
Dr. Wenk says sharing toothpaste can also spread germs from one person's toothbrush to another so it's a good idea to have your own.
The simple advice can go a long way toward a healthier mouth and hopefully keep you and your family well during cold and flu season.
Flu season varies from year to year, but typically stretches from fall to winter. The peak of flu season is January and February.
- Jan. 9, 2012: Flu season peak looms over Middle Tenn.
- Jan. 4, 2013: Area doctors see increase in patients suffering from flu
- Dec. 26, 2012: Tennessee sees elevated amounts of influenza
- Dec. 5, 2012: CDC reports high flu activity in Tennessee
- Dec. 5, 2012: Flu vaccines available for uninsured children
- Dec. 4, 2012: Health officials prepare for busy flu season
- Dec. 3, 2012: U.S. flu season starts early, could be bad, CDC says
- Sept. 24, 2012: Metro Health Department opens annual fast track flu clinic
- August 22, 2012: Nashville airport takes steps to keep travelers healthy
- August 15, 2012: Flu vaccines stocked, researchers keep eye on new strain