Bacteria. Lots of it. At any given time, there could be up to 200 species of oral bacteria living in your mouth. In an article by the Huffington Post, Ann Wei, DDS, a prosthodontist based in San Francisco states, “In an unbrushed mouth, there can be as many germs as a dirty bathroom floor.” * As dirty as the bathroom floor? If knowing that makes you nauseous, just wait till this fact pops in your head as you lean in for your next kiss. Yikes!
The title alone may have you cringing. One study found that fecal coliforms were seen on 54.85% of toothbrushes and that the odds of that fecal coming from another person using that bathroom were 80%.** Who do you share a bathroom with? Hopefully, your toothbrushes are placed far, far away from the toilet and that both you and the person you’re splitting the space with have good or above average hygiene habits.
Camping, traveling, using one as a spare in your purse - you might want to think twice about how you travel with your toothbrush. Just think, you use your toothbrush, put it away, now it’s sitting in a sealed location, wet and unable to dry. It becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. In a story published by ScienceDaily, Lauren Aber, MHS (Graduate Student, Quinnipiac University) notes, "Using a toothbrush cover doesn't protect a toothbrush from bacterial growth, but actually creates an environment where bacteria are better suited to grow by keeping the bristles moist and not allowing the head of the toothbrush to dry out between uses." ***
We’re sure you’ll think twice next time you go to pack up your toiletries for a long weekend.
Bacteria and viruses can live on a toothbrush up to three days. If you have the flu and continue to use the same brush, you won’t necessary re-infect yourself, but what happens if you start sharing? Our advice, buy each person in your household their own toothbrush and maybe keep a spare around for guests. If you want to take it a step further, you can buy each person their own toothpaste as well. This is one item that the “sharing is caring” phrase just doesn’t apply too.
Periodontal disease is caused by a major buildup of plaque that can eventually have repercussions such a gum disease and tooth loss if not properly taken care of. As one thing can lead to another, brushing with a toothbrush that has frayed or dull bristles can affect how clean you’re able to get your teeth. Essentially, it’s like cleaning a dirty pan with a soiled, worn down sponge. It isn’t going to help much. Replace the old with a new about every three months.
*”The Disgusting Truth about Your Toothbrush.” Huffington Post, 21 April 2014.
**American Society for Microbiology. "Toothbrush contamination in communal bathrooms." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 June 2015.
*** “If You Haven’t Replaced Your Toothbrush In 3 Months, You Should Read This.” Prevention, 23 February 2016.