Should You Throw Away Your Toothbrush After Being Sick?

The Short Answer from a registered dental hygienist
Toothbrush after sickness

Q: Should You Throw Away Your Toothbrush After Being Sick?

A: Yes. The bacteria that live on a toothbrush after you use it are considered anaerobic — meaning that they will die in the presence of oxygen. So, in general, if you let your toothbrush air dry, it will take care of most bacteria.

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Some experts recommend having two toothbrushes and alternating while one dries.

However, after you are sick, my general recommendation is to replace your toothbrush. It’s an easy fix to make sure lingering bacteria doesn’t lead to reinfection or get passed on to family members. This makes a lot more sense than trying to clean your toothbrush by boiling it or by using hydrogen peroxide or vinegar.

Also avoid storing multiple brushes, such as those of family members, in the same holder or in a drawer together. It’s best if they do not contact each other.

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— Registered dental hygienist Denise Stepka, RDH

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