We all want to live in a clean home. The most important places to keep clean are your kitchen and bathroom. This will help you avoid exposure to pathogenic viruses, bacteria, and parasites. However, even if you’re super clean or fortunate enough to have a cleaning person, this item could probably use a little more attention. Can you guess what it is? You use it every day and most likely more than once a day.
The answer is your toothbrush! That’s right, your trusty (old) toothbrush. When was the last time you cleaned it? Heck, when was the last time you got a new one? Your toothbrush is probably the most important thing that needs to be cleaned on a regular basis.
Just like your digestive tract and skin (and everywhere in between), your mouth has a microbiota. Microbiota refers to a community of microorganisms that live in and on your body. If the mouth’s microbiota is imbalanced, then your digestive tract (and the rest of your body) will also be imbalanced. This is simply because you swallow (microbe-rich) saliva and food that’s covered in saliva everyday. Also, your sinus cavity microbiota can be imbalanced if your mouth is, due to its close proximity.
The good thing is that you can easily help remedy this situation. Clean your toothbrush! Personally, I scrub mine with my hands using soap and water first. Then I rinse it and let it sit in a glass of hydrogen peroxide for about ten minutes. Doing this weekly should be plenty to help prevent the re-ingestion of harmful microbes that have been left to thrive on the bristles.
However, if you’re trying to balance the mircobiota in your mouth completely, you may need to take additional steps. Here’s a list of some options:
1) Probiotic toothpaste: I’ve seen this on the market lately, but I have no experience with it. In theory, it sounds great. If your mouth is the only area of your digestive tract that’s imbalanced, this may help a lot.
2) Oil-pulling: This is a traditional Ayurvedic practice. It involves taking a tablespoon or so of oil in your mouth each morning (before putting anything else in your mouth) and “swishing” it around for about fifteen minutes. When you’re finished, the oil is spit out, NOT SWALLOWED. It is said that pathogenic microbes will stick to the oil and then be discarded. Traditionally sesame seed oil has been used, although I prefer coconut oil. Not only will your mouth feel cleaner with oil-pulling, but there’s a good chance your teeth will whiten! It can be tough to add this to your morning routine. I’ve found it easiest to do while showering.
3) Balance the microbiota of your (lower) digestive tract: This may be the most important factor because of the sheer quantity of microbes it contains, in addition to the far-reaching impact they can have. Remember, your mouth is part of your digestive tract and microbes can migrate in both directions. You’ll most likely need to work with a competent practitioner to identify how to properly go about this.
At best, cleaning your toothbrush regularly may solve a history of symptoms, because pathogenic microbes won’t be continuously re-introduced into your body. And at the least, you’ll reduce the immune burden on your system, even if you can’t immediately feel the effects.
I hope this article helps you and your microbes live a healthier life!
Dr. Rob D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Diplomate and board-certified teacher of the International College of Applied Kinesiology