Research reveals the uglier side of your toothbrush. studies report that toothbrushes contain more bacteria than your toilet seat. A toilet seat contains about 3.2 million bacteria per square inch. On contrary, a toothbrush possesses about 200,000 or more bacteria per square inch. This statistical data is reported by DailyMail.co.uk.
A single toothbrush contains millions of microorganisms on its bristles. Some of the microbes are said to be harmless. However, others can be detrimental to your health.
The Nursing Research and Practice published a study conducted in 2012. It stated that toothbrush serves as a crucial storage for the survival of bacteria. People, often, keep toothbrushes in holders at the side of the sinks. The sinks, most of the time, are close to the toilet seats in the washrooms. The toilet seats, when kept with their lids open, release bacteria into the air.
Escherichia coli or E. coli is a common bacteria found in the fecal matter. It is also commonly associated with gastrointestinal diseases. Other common bacteria living on your toothbrush include,
- Streptococcus mutans causes tooth decay
- Lactobacillus causes cavities
- Pseudomonas causes eye infections
Studies report that toothbrushes also harbor viruses like that of herpes simplex type-I. It potentially causes “oral herpes”. In addition, human papillomavirus (HPV), popular for causing oral cancer, cervical cancer, and esophageal cancer, also houses your toothbrush.
You are most probably at higher risks of having all these diseases, every time you brush your teeth. However, simple hygienic practices can help you to reduce the potential health hazards on your toothbrush.
The American Dental Association (ADA) suggests the following measures for a healthy teeth brushing,
- People should throw and replace their toothbrushes with frayed bristles.
- People should replace their toothbrush after every three or four months.
- Keep your toothbrushes far from your toilet seat.
- The toothbrush holder should be clean and kept upright rather than lying down.
- A wet toothbrush houses more and more bacteria. Thus, you should allow your toothbrush to thoroughly dry in between brushings.
- Most of the times, the holders have more than one toothbrush. Make sure that all of the brushes are kept separate to prevent the chances of cross-contamination.
- Interchanging toothbrushes can result in the exchange of body fluids and microbes. This places the individual at higher risks of diseases and infections. Avoid using anyone’s toothbrush.
- The lid of the toilet seat must be closed. It decreases the microbial content released into the air.
- You should wash your hands after using the toilet seat and before brushing your teeth.
- Rinse your toothbrush after using it. This helps to remove the remaining food debris and toothpaste.
Dr. Maria Geisinger, the assistant professor, and periodontist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham states that people should note the type of toothbrush they are using. Toothbrushes with clear or lighter bristles are better than the colored ones. They retain up to 50 percent fewer bacteria. Geisinger also recommended using toothbrushes with solid plastic handles. These have fewer spaces for bacteria to hide and germinate in.
Kimberly Harms, Dentist and Consumer Adviser for the ADA stressed upon oral care. According to Kimberly, people can prevent gum diseases, tooth decays or bad breaths caused by bacteria. They should rinse their mouth with a natural antiseptic solution. In this way, people can eliminate any bacteria lingering in their mouth before they get to their toothbrush.