Brushing your teeth in the shower might sound like a time-efficient multitasking hygiene routine, but dentists throughout North America are letting the public know this is a risky way to clean those pearly whites.
What’s wrong with brushing your teeth in the shower?
Dental professionals are naming three reasons, and they’re concerned around high temperatures changing toothbrush bristles, bacteria transfer and increased chance of falls.
Here’s what dentists want you to know before you skip the bathroom sink.
Heat damages toothbrush bristles
High heat and steam aren’t good for the longevity of your toothbrush, according to Parul Dua Makkar, doctor of dental surgery and owner of PDM Family Dental in Jericho, New York.
“Exposing a toothbrush to heat and humidity weakens the bristles and make it ineffective,” Makkar told Fox News Digital. “Always store a toothbrush in a cool dry place, away from the shower and the toilet as bacteria love to multiply in wet and humid conditions.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends toothbrush replacement every three to four months. Some may need to replace their toothbrush sooner if the bristles look worn out.
For optimum dental health, the CDC suggests people brush their teeth thoroughly twice per day and floss daily in order to remove plaque buildup.
Showers are a cross-contamination risk
Arun Narang, a Toronto-based cosmetic and restorative dentist who’s the CEO at Dr. Arun Narang & Associates Smile by Design, told Fox News Digital that people who choose to brush their teeth in the shower increase their risk of harmful cross-contamination.
“Brushing your teeth in the shower may save time, but it exposes you to more bacteria,” Narang said. “Tubs and showers typically are ideal places for bacteria to grow because they are constantly wet, warm and sometimes shared with other family members.”
Placing a toothbrush down near a shower wall can transfer bacteria that has grown on the surface to brush bristles, which can then be transferred to a person during their next brushing.
“A sink doesn’t have this extent of issues because you aren’t standing in it like you are in a shower, and it has time to dry between uses,” Narang explained. “Also, a sink doesn’t produce the steam a shower does, causing dampness.”
What about mouthwash?
Even if a person follows their in-shower toothbrushing with mouthwash, there’s no promise that potential cross-contamination bacteria will be zapped from teeth, according to Fatima Khan, a doctor of dental medicine at Altus Dental in Houston, Texas, a general dentistry practice.
“Certain antiseptic mouthwash state they kill 99.9% of the bacteria in your mouth, which may include the bacteria if cross-contamination occurred,” Khan told Fox News Digital. “However, there are no long-term studies suggesting that using mouthwash will negate this effect.”
Khan also warned that antiseptic mouthwashes “do not discriminate between good and bad bacteria” and can strip a person’s mouth of healthy bacteria.
“We know now that regular use of antiseptic mouthwash can be damaging to your oral microbiome and should be avoided,” she said.
Tooth-cleaning products can make shower floors slippery.
While some dental professionals ardently warn that tooth-cleaning products can increase a person’s chance of an accidental slip and fall, this can also happen with other slick shower products, including soap bars, body wash, shampoos, conditioners and more.
“The fall risk may be the same as with other products,” Khan said.
“However, if you are using an oil-based mouthwash, that may further increase the fall risk,” she continued. “Also, oily residue can make the floor slippery even after you finish showering, so proceed with caution.”
What if you can’t give up in-shower toothbrushing?
Even though dental professionals don’t recommend in-shower toothbrushing, there are precautions people can take if they can’t bring themselves to break their multitasking oral hygiene routine, according to Amber Bonnaig, doctor of dental surgery and dental director of DentaQuest Georgia, a dental practice in the Peach State.
“For those who brush their teeth in the shower, the most important thing to remember is to store the toothbrush outside of the shower to prevent bacteria, which can grow in the wet shower, from transferring to the toothbrush and eventually the mouth,” Bonnaig told Fox News Digital.
She continued, “Whether in the shower or at a sink, brushing twice a day for two minutes is critical to achieving and maintaining a healthy mouth.”