Clean before you clean: Whatâ??s on your toothbrush just might surprise you

We all know that brushing our teeth is important for a clean and healthy mouth, but did you know keeping your toothbrush clean is just as important? Dr. Liz Kaz, Associate Dean for Education and Assessment at A.T. Still Universityâ??s Missouri School of Dental & Oral Health stopped by the set of Good Morning Heartland to tell us more about it. WATCH VIDEO ABOVE to learn more.

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Q. Can bacteria from your toilet really reach your toothbrush?

A. The short answer is â??yes.â?? Enteric bacteria, which mostly occur in the intestines, can transfer to toothbrushes and thus into your mouth. This may occur through inadequate hand-washing or due to microscopic droplets released from the toilet during flushing.Q. What is the proper way to clean your toothbrush to help remove germs?

A. You should thoroughly rinse toothbrushes with potable tap water after brushing to remove any remaining toothpaste and debris. Additionally, soaking toothbrushes in an antibacterial mouth rinse has been shown to decrease the level of bacteria that grow on toothbrushes.Q. How should you to store your toothbrush to avoid germ and bacteria buildup?

A. The American Dental Association recommends that you not store your toothbrush in a closed container or routinely cover your toothbrush, as a damp environment is more conducive to the growth of microorganisms. Also, storing toothbrushes in an upright position and allowing them to air dry until the next use is recommended, if possible. If more than one brush is stored in an area, keeping the toothbrushes separate can aid in preventing cross-contamination.Q. What is the proper toothbrush protocol when you are sick?

A. Any illness that can be transmitted through body fluids should warrant separation of the toothbrush of the infected individual and, if economically feasible, replacement of the toothbrush after the illness.Q. How often should your toothbrush be replaced?

A. Toothbrushes should be replaced at least every three to four months or when bristles become frayed and worn, whichever comes first.