I’m going to let you in on a (slightly pathetic) secret of mine: I have nightmares about my teeth. Like, a lot.
Whether it revolves around me having extremely yellow teeth or, on the nights when I forget to wear my retainer, dreaming that I’ve awoken to find that my two front teeth are basically a mile apart and I have the world’s hugest gap, they all leave me terrified.
But a dream I never have? That my toothbrush is a cesspool of germs — all because I know about the crucial art of sanitizing it.
Why Should You Sterilize Your Toothbrush?
I don’t think anyone will be surprised to hear that our mouths harbor tons of germs. That’s a huge part of why we brush them! When we use our toothbrushes, we’re scrubbing off plaque and bacteria — bacteria that can lead to a host of problems including periodontal disease, gingivitis, and tooth decay. The good news? Your mouth is now WAY cleaner. The bad news? Your toothbrush is WAY dirtier.
Rinsing off your toothbrush after you brush your teeth is a no-brainer, but it doesn’t eliminate all of the bacteria that now call your toothbrush home. Then, on top of that, your toothbrush is stored in the bathroom, a room that usually isn’t the most well-ventilated in the house — and the problem is worsened if you keep your toothbrush covered.
The only way to make sure your toothbrush is bacteria-free, then, is to sanitize it. Thankfully, doing so is pretty simple.
Sanitizing Your Toothbrush
A few years back, The Journal of Basic and Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology (JBCPP) published a comparative clinical study detailing the efficacy of UV light versus a chlorohexidine (a disinfecting and antibacterial compound) solution.
The study found that UV light was the most effective at sanitizing toothbrushes, stating that the “bacterial count reduced drastically after the treatment with UV rays.”
So while you can certainly disinfect your toothbrush using chlorohexidine solutions, UV light is by far your best bet at removing all those pesky bacteria and microorganisms. And the best part? With the right UV sterilizer, that process is usually as simple as pushing a button, and it only takes a few minutes.
The Top 5 Best UV Toothbrush Sterilizers on the Market
Price: $49.95 on Amazon
Amazon Rating: 4.7 out of 26 ratings
How It Works: The Avari Premium Toothbrush Sanitzer is a great sanitizer that you can use to sterilize several toothbrushes at once! It uses UV light to eliminate 99.9% of the bacteria on your toothbrush in just ten minutes, and there’s even a heating plate for drying your toothbrush faster so you reduce bacterial growth before sanitizing. You can fit five toothbrushes inside the sterilizer (which has a wall mount so it will take up less space in your bathroom) and it works by plugging into an electricity outlet.
Price: $10.71 on Amazon
Amazon Rating: 4.1 out of 532 ratings
How It Works: This little (and extremely portable!) toothbrush sterilizer packs a punch — and for just under $11! Using two AA batteries, this toothbrush sanitizer fits manual brushes the best and works with most electric toothbrush heads. The sanitizer kicks on as soon as you insert your toothbrush to eliminate 99.9% of germs, and automatically turns off after five minutes.
Kalamet UV Toothbrush Sanitizer
Price: $45.99 on Amazon
Amazon Rating: 4.3 out of 71 ratings
How It Works: This FDA-registered toothbrush sanitizer is super easy to use: Just stick up to five toothbrushes inside, close the lid, and it will automatically begin sanitizing your toothbrush. (It also includes a manual mode if you don’t like the automatic feature.) It uses a USB charger with a built-in battery, and a single 3-hour charge will power this sanitizer for 100 days!
Price: $39.00 on Amazon
Amazon Rating: 4.8 out of 35 ratings
How It Works: The TAO Clean Germ Shield basically looks like a spaceship for your toothbrush, which is kind of the coolest thing ever. It’s battery-operated and can accommodate manual and electric toothbrushes. All you have to do to use it is insert your toothbrush upside down into the UV sanitizing unit and shut the door. From start to finish, the whole thing takes four minutes and leaves your toothbrush 99.9% bacteria-free. Plus, it comes with a two-year warranty!
PhoneSoap.com Rating: 4.9 out of 178 reviews
How It Works: Unlike all of the options listed above, the HomeSoap isn’t designed to sanitize any one specific item — instead, it can sanitize a huge variety of items (and many of those at the same time)! That includes everything from your laptop to your video game controllers to, yes, your toothbrush. Plus, it’s incredibly easy to use: Just insert the item you’d like to sanitize and close the HomeSoap door (or you can use the manual on/off switch). The only caveat: Like with makeup brushes, we can not guarantee that your toothbrush will be 99.9% germ-free since the bristles are so dense, it's unlikely the light will be able to touch each individual bristle down to the root. But the HomeSoap can sanitize the handle and any other part that the light touches.
Toothbrushes are our saving grace: They keep our breath smelling fresh, our gums healthy, and our teeth from looking like corn kernels. (Ew.) But their job is tough; they’ve got to scrub away tons of bacteria and microorganisms — and then they don’t get to be cleaned themselves! That’s why sanitizing your toothbrush is so important and can make a huge difference in your oral health. So when it comes to getting your toothbrush totally clean, a UV sanitizing unit is so worth it.