Brush Up On Your Germ IQ Inside & Outside Your Mouth

By Dr. Gerry Curatola

With flu season upon us, we want to do everything in our power to protect ourselves. Understanding that there are bacteria and viruses, like flu influenza, in the environment around us that can make us sick, there is also an amazing microbial environment,called the microbiome, in and on our bodies that actually protects us and keeps us alive. The key to health is respecting both: keeping the “bad guys” outside while respecting the “good guys” inside our bodies. While most people are aware of common techniques, such as washing hands, in order to prevent outside germs from spreading – they don’t take proper care of something even more important…oral health. A healthy mouth is a healthy defense for the whole body. A healthy oral ecology is like a beautiful flourishing diverse garden that is naturally protective with between 500-1000 different types of bacteria. When healthy, these bacteria protect us, aid in digestion and can even make vitamins. When unhealthy and imbalanced, these bacteria can become harmful pathogens leading to oral disease and weaken our defense from harmful bugs around us.

Here are a few common myths & practices, debunked:

MYTH 1: The five-second rule (If you drop something on the floor, it won’t pick up any germs if you pick it up within five seconds.) This is false! Food starts to pick up germs from the moment it hits the floor. Research has proved that the 5-second rule is wrong. Bacteria can attach to food even if it’s picked up very fast. So it’s not a good idea to eat food that has hit the floor. While floors that look dirty are obvious hazards, even floors that appear clean can harbor bacteria. Bacteria can attach to food as soon as it hits the floor. That means that even food left on the floor just for an instant can become contaminated if conditions are right.

MYTH 2: A plastic container keeps my toothbrush clean False! A plastic toothbrush cover retains moisture making it a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. The Center for Disease Control discourages the use of these covers. This isn’t to say your toothbrush is safe if left out in the open. Bad bacteria that can cause oral infections, the flu and other infectious diseases can spread from one family member to another through toothbrush contact when you store
your brushes unprotected in a holder. The simple act of flushing a toilet can contaminate a six- foot radius! I suggest a nonwoven barrier, such as IntelliDent Toothbrush Shield, to wick away moisture and it is a very effective shield against bacteria.

MYTH 3: Borrowing my partner’s brush is just like kissing them False again! You should never share a toothbrush with someone else. The CDC advises “the exchange of body fluids that such sharing would foster places toothbrush sharers at an increased risk for infections.” Here is why: the oral biofilm in your mouth is as unique as your thumbprint. When your partner brushes he or she removes plaque and particles – essentially contaminating their toothbrush, which can be passing right onto you! That’s why it’s important to change brushes regularly and never share.

MYTH 4: My toothpaste says it “kill germs” keeping my mouth cleaner and healthier. False yet again! Toothpastes that use antimicrobials whether the chemical triclosan or even natural tea tree oil are also disturbing and denaturing the natural protective bacterial biofilm in your mouth making your mouth more unhealthy and susceptible to disease. It can be compared to destroying a coral reef protecting an island.

About Dr. Gerry Curatola:
Renowned Oral health Expert and frequent contributor to The Doctor Oz Show, Fox News, ABC Network, AOL Health, Real Self and Sharecare, Dr. Gerry Curatola has spent over 20 years in oral health research. He has pioneered new approaches in Oral Care including groundbreaking therapeutics that he has developed. Dr. Curatola founded the Curatola Wing For Clinical Research at New York University and he is the Cofounder and Chairman of CS Bioscience, a lifesciences company. His philosophy behind the global network of Rejuvenation Dentistry offices in New York, London, Paris, Rome and Shanghai is recognizing the unique role that dentists have on the frontline of helping patients live a longer and healthier life. Dr. Curatola practices in his Rejuvenation Dentistry office at 521 Park Avenue in New York City.