You toothbrush could be the hidden spreader of flu germs in your home

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DETROIT - We know to wash our hands and cover our mouths when we cough or sneeze, but what about the toothbrush, which visits the mouth several times per day? The mouth harbors all kinds of bacteria, so it's not surprising that bad bacteria can be easily transferred by a toothbrush.

 Sarina Gleason, a Delta Dental spokesperson, appeared on Local 4 News Morning on Wednesday to discuss protecting your family so they don't get sick this winter.

 Here are some tips from Delta Dental:

   *   Sterilize your toothbrush once per week. For manual toothbrushes, one minute in the microwave or one run through the dishwasher will do the trick. For electric toothbrushes, soak the head in mouthwash for 3 minutes.

   *   Avoid cross-contamination of germs by giving each member of the family their own tube of toothpaste and using an individual travel size container when someone is sick.

   *   Replace your toothbrush every four months because toothbrushes wear out and don't clean as effectively once the bristles become worn down. If you do get sick, be sure to replace your toothbrush right away.

   *   Wash your hands before and after brushing. Anytime the hands are near the mouth, they can transfer bacteria.