Your teeth are clean, right? You flossed, rinsed, and brushed— you’re covered. Don’t be so sure. A 2011 study published in Microscopy Research and Technique uncovered your toothbrush’s biggest secret: Almost half of the new oral hygiene tools available for purchase contain bacteria—before you even open the box. That’s right, every time you buy a new toothbrush, you’ve got a 50/50 chance that it’s been delivered with bacteria already lurking between the bristles.
So, what do you do? Our friends at the American Journal of Dentistry have a couple of options for you: First, they suggest running your toothbrush through the dishwasher. If putting your new toothbrush next to last night’s used spatula isn’t for you, find some cetylpyridinium chloride—an antiseptic found in many mouthwashes and toothpastes. One study found that soaking your toothbrush (new or old) in a wash containing this compound for 20 minutes will leave it devoid of bacteria.
Click here to find out which toothbrush is right for you.
WHICH TOOTHBRUSH IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
1) Yellow Teeth? Reach Total Care Plus Whitening
“Used correctly, a manual toothbrush can be just as effective as a mechanical one,” says Howard strassler, d.m.d., professor and director of operative dentistry at the University of maryland school of dentistry. this option from reach features bristles made from calcium carbonate (dubbed the “micrawhitening” technology), which will help whiten your teeth and remove stains. $4, walmart.com
2) Sensitive Gums? Oral-B SmartSeries 5000
This model offers five different modes to cater to the sensitivity of your gums, and with 8,800 oscillations and 40,000 pulsations per minute, it’s one of the most powerful electric toothbrushes on the market today. all that power is governed by a pressure sensor that will stop when you’re brushing too hard. $140, pgestore.com
3) On The Go? Philips Sonicare DiamondClean
To clean teeth properly you have to get between them. for those who have difficulty flossing, this offering ensures that areas between teeth and along the gumline are always on target. it comes with a handy carrying case and can be charged by your standard wall socket or a laptop via Usb—perfect for the constant traveler. $160, amazon.com
4) Lazy? Emmi-dent 6
Serving up 96 million oscillations per minute, this model isn’t the typical brush. in fact, with the emmi-dent, you aren’t even supposed to brush. the “ultrasonic” oscillations create nano-bubbles from the toothpaste that can reach in between teeth and give you a fresh, clean feeling just by keeping the brush on your teeth for a few seconds. $189, emmi-dent.com
5) Got Braces, Implants, Crowns, Bridges, or Periodontal Pockets? WaterpIk Ultra Water Flosser
This has been clinically proven to be 50% more effective than floss for gingivitis treatment. $60, waterpik.com