The Toothbrush and Its Ugly Truths

10 Daily Dental Hygiene Practices

The Toothbrush and Its Ugly Truths

10 Daily Dental Hygiene PracticesDo you share a bathroom with others? Do you have a child going away to college this school year? If so, you might want to rethink where and how you store your toothbrush. Research from a toothbrush cleanliness study was recently presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, and it revealed that there is in fact transmission of fecal coliforms in communal bathrooms, as traces of fecal matter were discovered on the bristles from the collected toothbrushes-yuck!

Researchers analyzed toothbrushes taken from the bathrooms at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut. The toothbrushes were taken from communal bathrooms that had an average of at least nine users per bathroom, and it was discovered that more than 60% tested positive for fecal matter, regardless of the storage method. In addition, there is an 80% chance that the fecal contamination came from the other people using the bathroom! Contamination is likely due to the fact that these toothbrushes are typically stored out in the open, which can expose them to microorganisms and other materials that come from the toilets, as well as the other occupants.  This brings about concern mainly because the fecal matter found on the toothbrushes is not just your own, but also from the other people using the restroom. It is the fecal matter that comes from another person, which contains parasites, bacteria, or viruses that are not a part of your normal stomach flora, that is the most worrying aspect according to study author Lauren Aber.

In order to help prevent the transmission of potentially pathogenic bacteria that can make you ill, introduce these 10 hygiene practices into your daily routine:

  1. Be sure to shut the toilet seat when you are finished using the bathroom. This will help minimize the spread of germs and poop particles.
  2. Rinse your toothbrush thoroughly after each use, shake off any excessive water and let air-dry.
  3. Avoid sharing your toothbrush with others, and do not use anyone else’s toothbrush.
  4. It is recommended by the American Dental Association that toothbrushes are stored where they can air-dry in an upright position. It is also important that any toothbrushes stored together don’t touch each other.
  5. If your child is in college, have him/her store their toothbrush in a discreet corner of their dorm room so it can air-dry. Do not store the toothbrush in the communal bathrooms, or in a travel case.
  6. Only use travel cases when you are traveling. You never want to let your toothbrush roll around uncovered in your bag because your toothbrush will pick up dirt, dust, and bacteria.
  7. It is recommended that you replace your toothbrush every three to four months, or when it shows signs of wear.
  8. Be sure to throw away your toothbrush after you have recovered from an illness.
  9. If you must use a toothbrush cover, make sure it’s not one that closes completely around the brush and doesn’t have any air vents. Instead, look for a cover that has small holes in it for air-flow in order to help prevent bacterial growth.
  10. Sanitize your toothbrush once a week by soaking your toothbrush in hydrogen peroxide. You can do this by pouring some into a small empty bottle and place your brush head into the bottle and let it sit for 5 minutes. Afterwards, rinse your brush head thoroughly with water, shake off any excessive water, and let it air-dry before use.


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