Could your toothbrush be giving you the flu?!

Flu season usually peaks in February or March and many Nebraskans are flu-phobic. Now, an expert says your toothbrush could be making you sick. Dentist Dr. Ed Schooley says if you’ve had H-1-N-1, another flu bug or a bad cold, you likely ought to chuck your toothbrush.
Dr. Schooley says it’s recommended you swap out toothbrushes every four months anyway. Schooley says if you get sick with one of the various flu viruses, the toothbrush should be replaced when your bout with the flu is over. While toothbrushes aren’t usually considered a high-dollar item, if yours is fairly new, you may not want to toss it out just because you had the sniffles.
Schooley says another route would be to sterilize your toothbrush to get rid of all those pesky germs. He says, “Sterilizers are available through most of the local drug stores but you can actually just sterilize it by putting it in the microwave for a minute or run your toothbrush through the dishwasher.”
While nearly everyone knows to cover your mouth if you cough or sneeze, Schooley says some folks just aren’t up to speed on how important it is to keep your toothbrush clean — and segregated. He says his wife will sometimes brush her teeth while watching TV and will put her toothbrush down in places where it shouldn’t be sitting. Schooley says to make an effort to keep the toothbrush in a clean place and away from common areas, adding, don’t share toothbrushes with other people and don’t store multiple toothbrushes together.
He says airborne bacteria can be shared between toothbrushes stored near each other in warm, moist environments like the bathroom. Also, Schooley says to avoid cross-contamination of germs by giving each family member their own tube of toothpaste and try to use an individual travel-size tube of toothpaste when someone is sick.
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