Changing your toothbrush after a cold: advisable or unnecessary?

A young man brushes his teeth: Whether with or without a cold: changing your toothbrush regularly should be part of your oral hygiene.

Whether you have a cold or not, changing your toothbrush regularly should be part of your oral hygiene routine.

Anyone who has just gotten over a cold doesn’t want to get infected again straight away. But can changing your toothbrush actually help?

Numerous germs such as bacteria or viruses are found in every toothbrush – right from the first use. This is normal and can hardly be avoided. The germs come primarily from your own oral flora. After an infection such as a cold , flu or corona disease, the corresponding pathogens appear in the brush head for a while.

That’s why it seems obvious at first to change your toothbrush after an illness such as a cold so as not to get infected again. However, this is probably only really necessary in certain cases.

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The North Rhine Dental Association generally recommends changing your toothbrush after a cold. However, according to professional sources such as the American Dental Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), there is usually no risk of exposure after an infection such as a cold or flu from using your own Re-plug your toothbrush. Changing it simply because of the infection it has experienced would therefore be unnecessary.

Only under certain conditions could there be a risk of infection for others. Namely when

  • the toothbrush could come into contact with other people’s toothbrushes. For example, if all household members have their brushes in the same toothbrush cup and the brush heads touch each other.
  • the toothbrush is shared with other people.

In these cases, it would be advisable to change the toothbrush after an infectious illness such as a cold.

However, there is usually no risk of becoming infected again by using your own toothbrush. Because of the infection you have just endured, the body’s own defense system has formed antibodies against the causative pathogens. If these were to enter the body again via the toothbrush, the immune system would usually quickly recognize them and render them harmless. Renewed symptoms of the disease would hardly be expected.

The situation is different for people whose immune systems are severely weakened and do not function properly – for example due to another existing illness. In these cases, the US Dental Association believes it makes sense for those affected to change their toothbrush after an infection such as a cold.

Tips for hygienic use of the toothbrush

To prevent the number of germs in the toothbrush head from increasing unnecessarily, the following tips will help:

  • After use, rinse the toothbrush well with running water.
  • After rinsing, tap out excess water from the brush head.
  • Always place the toothbrush upside down in the cup and let it air dry.
  • When traveling or on the go, transport your toothbrush in an air-permeable travel case.
  • Do not share the toothbrush with other people.
  • If several toothbrushes are stored in the same cup, make sure that the brush heads do not touch each other.
  • Avoid toothbrushes with natural bristles because bacteria and other germs can survive longer in the hollow bristles.
  • Do not treat the toothbrush with disinfectants or mouthwashes, as germs can spread under unfavorable conditions.
  • Do not put the toothbrush in the microwave or dishwasher as this can damage the brush. UV cleaning devices are also not recommended.

Apart from that, it is advisable to regularly replace your old toothbrush with a new one. Depending on the source, you should do this every six to eight weeks, but no later than three months. However, the reason for this is not that too many germs otherwise accumulate. Rather, by then the bristles are usually so worn that plaque can no longer be removed efficiently.


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