On topic with Dr. Dill: Tips for a healthier home

Germs are everywhere. They’re a natural, and often helpful, part of our environment. In our homes, millions of bacteria live on everyday items such as toothbrushes, towels and handles — most often in your kitchen and bathroom.

While many germs are harmless, some may enter your mouth and lead to tooth decay and gum disease. You may also develop health problems as bacteria make their way into your bloodstream. During the upcoming cold and flu season, avoiding harmful germs is even more important than usual. And with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, you can’t be too careful.

So, how do you protect yourself?

1. Rinse your toothbrush before and after each use to reduce the amount of bacteria on it. When you store your toothbrush, don’t let the head of your brush touch other items, like someone else’s toothbrush.

2. Avoid sharing toothbrushes, straws, utensils and cups. These items gather bacteria when they touch our mouths. Sharing them allows bacteria to travel from one mouth to another, potentially causing tooth decay.

3. Clean and disinfect items you touch frequently, including your toothbrush handle and holder, shower curtains, switches, faucets, doorknobs, phones and keyboards. Germs from these items can make their way into your body when you touch your face.

4. Clean your mouthguard, clear aligner, retainer or dentures daily to remove food and bacteria. This can help prevent oral health problems, including gum disease, infection, mouth sores and bad breath. If possible, store these items in a protective case.

5. Don’t clean pacifiers with your mouth, which could spread germs to your child. It’s better to rinse them with water instead.

6. Wash used towels at least once a week, and make sure they dry between uses. Towels used after brushing your teeth and washing your face are a great hiding spot for all kinds of bacteria and viruses.

By practicing good hygiene at home, you’ll keep bad germs at bay and better protect your family’s health.

Meet Joseph Dill, DDS, Delta Dental’s Vice President of Dental Science and Network Strategy. With more than 30 years of experience in the dental field, including eight in private practice and 16 in dental insurance, Dr. Dill provides expert insights and helpful advice to keep you smiling bright.