“There are plenty of things in the world you can share, a toothbrush doesn’t need to be one of them.” – Moldovan.
Maybe you might be thinking that this cannot happen because it is not normal to use someone else’s toothbrush. But you are going to be surprised after knowing that in fact, this is a common thing. Apparently, leaving behind the “Ewww” factor, there are a lot of reasons why sharing your toothbrush is a bad idea.
Do not share brushes. Don’t ever use anyone else’s toothbrush, or let someone use yours. According to a 2011 study by NSF International, the toothbrush holder is the third germiest place in the home – more coli-forms than the handles in your bathroom! Think about that. There are more germs in the container that is holding your toothbrush, which goes in your mouth, than the handles on the faucets in your bathroom. In fact, according to the study, the only places in your home with more germs include the kitchen sink and that dish sponge you should have thrown away (or zapped in the microwave!) a month ago.
The good news is that the slimy monster living in your toothbrush holder is easily defeated with a little courage, knowledge, elbow grease, good cleaning weaponry and regular maintenance.
When cleaning something with stuck-on residue, grease, grime or any visible gunk, we first need to ensure that residue is scrubbed, stripped and removed. Residue can hide bacteria, viruses and coli-forms (think Salmonella and E. coli), even if sterilized in your dishwasher. Toothbrush holders (especially the “cup-style” holders) are often cavernous and hard to clean. Toothpaste gunk, saliva and even blood from your toothbrush can drip down into your toothbrush holder twice a day (after each brushing).
The following are what you need to look out for:
Bleeding gums - A toothbrush can easily spread blood-borne illnesses. When some people brush, their gums bleed. That can result in exposure to bacteria and viruses that can enter the bloodstream.
Bacteria - A toothbrush can harbor streptococcus mutans — the same bacteria responsible for many infections or flesh-eating bacteria and even tooth decay.
Food particles - A toothbrush can expose you to what someone else ate for dinner, possibly even the day before. That is especially true when that person fails to rinse or brush properly.
Viruses - Viruses such as the herpes simplex type one can be spread with toothbrush use. This is the same virus responsible for oral and genital herpes. Another virus that can spread with toothbrush sharing is HPV (human papilloma virus). That virus is linked to esophageal, oral and cervical cancers.
Fungi - Maybe you don’t think of a toothbrush as a potential petri-dish, but fungi such as candida (the fungus responsible for diaper rash and yeast infections) can live on toothbrushes.
Periodontal disease - One of the most common oral infections, periodontitis, can be spread via the toothbrush. There are a lot of implications to that, such as the potential loss of teeth. There is substantial literature that has proved an interrelation between the periodontal disease and the systemic diseases of the body. Besides the American Dental Association recommend rinsing your toothbrush with water after every use and storing in an upright position, separate from other toothbrushes, because you don’t want them accidentally touching.