Got a cold? Suffering from the flu? You’re not alone.
According to a new Gallup poll, a record number of Americans reported being sick last month. 11.6% of those polled said that they’d had a cold in December 2014, the highest monthly rate since Gallup began tracking flu and colds since 2008. The previous record was 10.8% sick people in January 2013.
And, on any given day of December 2014, an average of 4.0% people reported being sick with flu – higher than all previous Decembers since 2008. January and February are traditionally the peak months for flu, so unless the flu season peaked early this year we could be in for a rough winter.
Many of us toss out our toothbrushes after recovering from a flu or cold, assuming we can get re-infected by any traces of the virus that may be lurking within its bristles. But while tossing that brush may make you feel better psychologically, there’s no medical reason to do so. You’ve already developed the antibodies needed to fight off that virus, according to a report in Slate Magazine.
Bacteria are another story though. If you have a bacterial infection such as strep throat, toss the toothbrush. While you probably won’t get reinfected, it’s possible in theory. Why take any chances?
The real risk of infection comes from someone else’s toothbrush. No matter how close you may be to the owner of that brush, don’t share toothbrushes Even if you don’t have a cold or the flu, toothbrushes can harbor and transmit bacteria that causes tooth decay – and yes, tooth decay is considered an infectious disease.
As a general rule, don’t store toothbrushes belonging to multiple people in a cup or container where the bristles can come into contact with each other. Avoid enclosing your brush in a cap or container that doesn’t allow air to circulate around the bristles. When you’re ill, you may also want to avoid bringing your toothbrush into direct contact with the contents or rim of a shared tube of toothpaste – you may just want to use separate tubes, and toss the one used by the sick person after he or she is feeling better.
The American Dental Association suggests that soaking your toothbrush in an antibacterial mouthrinse before and after brushing may prevent or decrease bacteria build up on toothbrushes. The ADA also points out that bacteria can be present on your toothbrush “right out of the box” since there is no requirement for brushes to be sold in a sterile package. So you might want to give a new toothbrush a good soak before you use it.
And don’t forget to replace your toothbrush every three to four months. Most importantly – stay well!
To learn more call one of our :DP AtYourService Customer Care Representatives at 1-800-238-5163.