Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Clean before you clean: What's on your toothbrush just might surprise you

Date:
May 6, 2014
Source:
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Summary:
Do you know Staphylococci, coliforms, pseudomonads, yeasts, intestinal bacteria and -- yes -- even fecal germs may be on your toothbrush? Appropriate toothbrush storage and care are important to achieving personal oral hygiene and optimally effective plaque removal. Appropriate toothbrush storage and care are important to achieving personal oral hygiene and optimally effective plaque removal

Do you know Staphylococci, coliforms, pseudomonads, yeasts, intestinal bacteria and -- yes -- even fecal germs may be on your toothbrush?

Appropriate toothbrush storage and care are important to achieving personal oral hygiene and optimally effective plaque removal, says Maria L. Geisinger, DDS, assistant professor of periodontology in the School of Dentistry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

"The oral cavity is home to hundreds of different types of microorganisms, which can be transferred to a toothbrush during use," Geisinger said. "Furthermore, most toothbrushes are stored in bathrooms, which exposes them to gastrointestinal microorganisms that may be transferred via a fecal-oral route. The number of microorganisms can vary wildly from undetectable to 1 million colony-forming units (CFUs). Proper handling and care of your toothbrush is important to your overall health."

What constitutes proper care and handling? Geisinger answers several questions that may help better protect families from toothbrush germs.

Q. Can bacteria from your toilet really reach your toothbrush?

A. "The short answer is 'yes.' Enteric bacteria, which mostly occur in the intestines, can transfer to toothbrushes and thus into your mouth. This may occur through inadequate hand-washing or due to microscopic droplets released from the toilet during flushing. The topic of dirty toothbrushes was a recent subject of the popular Discovery Channel show "Mythbusters," when 24 toothbrushes were tested, and all of them demonstrated enteric microorganisms -- even those that had not been inside of a bathroom. In fact, toothbrushes may be contaminated with bacteria right out of the box, as they are not required to be packaged in a sterile manner."

Q. What is the proper way to clean your toothbrush to help remove germs?

A. "You should thoroughly rinse toothbrushes with potable tap water after brushing to remove any remaining toothpaste and debris. Additionally, soaking toothbrushes in an antibacterial mouth rinse has been shown to decrease the level of bacteria that grow on toothbrushes."

Q. How should you to store your toothbrush to avoid germ and bacteria buildup?

A. "The American Dental Association recommends that you not store your toothbrush in a closed container or routinely cover your toothbrush, as a damp environment is more conducive to the growth of microorganisms. Also, storing toothbrushes in an upright position and allowing them to air dry until the next use is recommended, if possible. If more than one brush is stored in an area, keeping the toothbrushes separate can aid in preventing cross-contamination."

Q. What is the proper toothbrush protocol when you are sick?

A. "Any illness that can be transmitted through body fluids should warrant separation of the toothbrush of the infected individual and, if economically feasible, replacement of the toothbrush after the illness."

Q. How often should your toothbrush be replaced?

A. "Toothbrushes should be replaced at least every three to four months or when bristles become frayed and worn, whichever comes first."

There are four other steps Geisinger recommends be followed to help achieve a higher quality of oral health and avoid or limit some of the causes of bacteria toothbrush buildup.

Use antimicrobial mouth rinse prior to brushing. This can decrease the bacterial load in your mouth considerably and may reduce the number of microorganisms that end up on the toothbrush after brushing.

Engage in routine dental care. Routine dental care, including regular dental cleanings, can reduce the overall bacterial load in your mouth, and the types of bacteria present, and can therefore reduce bacteria on your toothbrush. It is especially important for those with gum disease, as the oral bacteria present in their mouths can enter the bloodstream as they perform everyday activities, including eating, chewing gum and toothbrushing.

Wash your hands. Hand-washing after using the restroom and prior to using your toothbrush can reduce the likelihood of fecal-oral contamination.

Do not share toothbrushes. This seems like a no-brainer, but a large proportion of spouses admit to sharing toothbrushes. That means bacteria on those toothbrushes are being shared, including the ones that cause dental decay and periodontal disease -- the two major dental diseases in adults.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Alabama at Birmingham. The original article was written by Tyler Greer. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Alabama at Birmingham. "Clean before you clean: What's on your toothbrush just might surprise you." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140506094439.htm>.
University of Alabama at Birmingham. (2014, May 6). Clean before you clean: What's on your toothbrush just might surprise you. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140506094439.htm
University of Alabama at Birmingham. "Clean before you clean: What's on your toothbrush just might surprise you." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140506094439.htm (accessed August 19, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Freetown a City on Edge

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Freetown a City on Edge

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) Residents of Sierra Leone's capital voice their fears as the Ebola virus sweeps through west Africa. Duration: 00:56 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
101-Year-Old Working Man Has All The Advice You Need

101-Year-Old Working Man Has All The Advice You Need

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Herman Goldman has worked at the same lighting store for almost 75 years. Find out his secrets to a happy, productive life. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
American Ebola Patient Apparently Improving, Outbreak Is Not

American Ebola Patient Apparently Improving, Outbreak Is Not

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Nancy Writebol, an American missionary who contracted Ebola, is apparently getting better, according to her husband. The outbreak, however, is not. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins