Erm, so what's the deal with cleaning your teeth in the shower?

is it bad to clean your teeth in the shower
Is it bad to clean your teeth in the shower?Maskot - Getty Images

Hands up who loves a little in-shower teeth-cleaning session? Tbh same. After all, standing under warm water when you're still bleary-eyed and desperately trying to feel like a fully functioning human at 6:30am is so much better than, well, not. However, it might be a dental hygiene habit in need of a re-think, according to some dentists...

"While brushing your teeth in the shower may be convenient, it's important to be aware of the potential risks and take steps to minimise them," Payal Bhalla, lead dentist and clinical director at Quest Dental, tells Cosmopolitan UK.

Here's what you need to know about cleaning your teeth in the shower...

Is it okay to clean your teeth in the shower?

"Sharing the same water source for brushing your teeth and cleaning your body can lead to the transfer of germs from other parts of your body to your mouth," explains Bhalla. "This could then compromise your immune system and lead to unwanted illness."

Elaborating on this, Bhalla points out: "The shower head can harbour bacteria, and when you brush your teeth under the shower head, you may be exposing your toothbrush to those bacteria, again increasing your likelihood of illness."

What's more, if you share a shower with someone else, there's a risk of cross-contamination. "Sharing a toothbrush or exposing your toothbrush to someone else's bacteria can lead to the spread of germs," Bhalla adds.

As well as increasing your exposure to bacteria, Bhalla tells us that the temperature of the water we use to shower with can have a damaging impact too. "Hot water in the shower can cause the bristles of your toothbrush to soften, which can make it less effective in cleaning your teeth," the expert reveals. "Furthermore, it is recommended by dental experts to use an electric toothbrush for a more thorough clean, and whilst most electric toothbrushes are waterproof, I wouldn't recommend submerging them in water as it could damage the mechanism and bristles."

Something else to be mindful of, Bhalla highlights, is that: "Water and toothpaste can make the shower floor slippery, which can increase the risk of falls and injuries."

is it bad to clean your teeth in the shower
Mystockimages - Getty Images

But, doesn't cleaning your teeth in the shower save water?

"Brushing your teeth in the shower may seem like a way to save water, but in reality, it may not be the most effective way to conserve water," Bhalla points out, adding that "if you leave the water running while you brush your teeth, you may waste a significant amount of water."

"A more effective way to save water while brushing your teeth is to turn off the faucet while you brush at the sink," the expert advises. "This simple habit can save a significant amount of water over time."

What about leaving your toothbrush inside the shower?

If you're still not convinced to change your teeth-cleaning habits, Bhalla advises to at least ensure you're storing your toothbrush away from the shower.

"It is not recommended to leave your toothbrush in the shower for hygiene reasons, as moisture in the shower can create an ideal environment for bacteria to grow, and leaving your toothbrush in the shower can expose it to bacteria that may be present in there," the expert says. "Bacteria can build up on your toothbrush and potentially lead to oral health issues."

As well as reminding us about how the heat and humidity in the shower can damage the bristles of a toothbrush, Bhalla adds: "If you use any products in the shower, such as shampoo or body wash, leaving your toothbrush in the shower can expose it to these chemicals, which can be harmful if ingested."

Instead, Bhalla recommends storing "your toothbrush in a dry, clean place and away from potential sources of contamination, such as the toilet or sink" as well as replacing it every "three to four months or sooner if the bristles become frayed or worn".

This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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