It’s spring, the trees are blooming, the sun is shining, and the temperatures are rising. The last thing you might be worried about is the flu, a cold-weather battle. But even as late in the season as May, Rockland County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert warned New York residents that the flu is still widespread in the state. This year seemed to be particularly tough as flu-related hospitalizations were record-breaking, including 160 pediatric deaths.
There are many things you can do to protect yourself from an infection whether it’s a flu-vaccine or washing your hands. But did you know that a new toothbrush could also be a safeguard against the flu? If you’re like most Americans, you may only get around to replacing your toothbrush once or twice a year. But the American Dental Association recommends that you replace your toothbrush every three months.
A Haven for Bacteria
If your toothbrush is hanging out in a cup on your bathroom sink, it’s vulnerable to passing bacteria and fungal growth. Maybe your cat jumps up on the sink and brushes your toothbrush head with her tail. Maybe you’ve dropped it on the floor on your hurried way out the door. Sure, rinsing it under hot water is often a good fix before you stick it back in your mouth, but toothbrushes that are older than three months are more likely to pick up and harbor harmful bacteria.
While more research is needed to support the connection between bacterial growth on toothbrushes and specific illnesses, old toothbrushes are believed to be more vulnerable to bacteria and fungal growth.
You’ll also want to make a quick trip to your local drugstore to purchase a new toothbrush if you’ve been recently sick with a cold or the flu. Viruses can linger on the toothbrush you used while you were sick. So even though you’ve recovered, an old toothbrush makes you vulnerable to becoming sick again. You may not be able to catch the same flu or cold again, but there are hundreds of different strains of these sicknesses, and if one missed you last time, using the same toothbrush gives them another chance. In fact, part of the reason why people stay sick all winter is that they rotate through cold after flu after flu after cold.
The same is true for mouth sores. Once you get better, you’ll want to stay healthy with a clean, uninfected toothbrush.
Preventive Care Is the Best Defense
Preventive care such as good oral hygiene is often our best defense against nasty illnesses like the flu. Your oral home hygiene routine should include brushing your teeth twice a day, but if you’re using a toothbrush that’s older than 3 or 4 months, you could be vulnerable to harmful bacteria.
Your teeth are a part of a system that works together, and when your mouth and teeth are healthy, your body can be too. If your body is constantly fighting an infection like gum disease, it has fewer resources to fight other illnesses, and this can make you more susceptible to colds and the flu.
If you’re hoping to leave flu season behind you for good this year, invest in your oral health care. Make an appointment with a comfortable, friendly, and expert general dentist in Rockland County at B & D Dental Excellence in West Nyack. Please call (845) 627-7645 today for an appointment.