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Washing hands after brushing teeth essential for good hygiene

  • Published
  • By Tech Sgt. Dinah LaDuke
  • 59th Dental Group
We are all told to wash our hands to keep from getting sick, but it is also important to remember to brush your teeth. A healthy body requires a healthy mouth.

This is why it's especially important during cold and flu season not only to keep your hands clean, but also your mouth.

Many people get sick by transferring bacteria from their hands to their mouth by touching it, such as when biting their finger nails. The fewer bacteria you have in your mouth, the less likely you are to catch a cold.

Many types of bacteria on your hands and in your mouth. People who brush and floss daily have a relatively clean mouth with 1,000 to 100,000 bacteria living on the surface of each tooth. Those that do not have about 100 million to 1 billion bacteria on each tooth surface.

Some bacteria in your mouth are pathogenic, meaning they can cause disease in the body if they enter the bloodstream. If your gums are bleeding, bacteria can get into your body and the immune system has to work hard to fight back infection.

It's always a good idea to replace your toothbrush after a cold, a bout of the flu, an infection in the mouth or a sore throat. Germs can hide in your toothbrush bristles and often lead to re-infection. After use, toothbrushes should be stored in an upright position to air out. A damp toothbrush will cultivate more bacteria.

Even if you have not been sick, fungus and bacteria multiply in the bristles of your toothbrush. The American Dental Association recommends changing toothbrushes every three months.

The ADA also recommends, at a minimum, to brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. If you snack and drink throughout the day, it is helpful to brush your teeth more often using an antimicrobial mouth rinse. Utilizing mouth rinse in addition to flossing daily between your teeth will get rid of food particles and minimize plaque and bacteria.
Having good oral hygiene and hand hygiene habits is important to your overall health and well being. It helps boost the immune system and keeps bacteria from getting into the mouth and gums.

The next time you use a toothbrush or cup your hands under the faucet water to rinse make sure you have clean hands and check to see if your toothbrush needs to be replaced. Remember, brushing your teeth and washing your hands only takes a few minutes a day and it helps keep the germs away.