Image: Bring It On/Beacon Pictures.
Think again, people.
It may look innocent but your toothbrush could be a breeding ground for bacteria… and, erm, poo. We wish we were kidding. But in saying that, we wouldn’t tell you all of this without offering some solutions, too.
1. Your toothbrush probably has poo on it.
If you share a bathroom with others you might want to pay close attention. A study from the American Society for Microbiology found 60 per cent of toothbrushes in shared bathrooms have… wait for it… faecal matter on them.
But wait, there’s more. Of those toothbrushes, 80 per cent of the faecal matter IS FROM OTHER PEOPLE.
I know. I’m sorry. But there is one important thing you can do to prevent this.
Start by putting the lid down when you flush, because that bacteria can fly everywhere. Another study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection found the bacteria Clostridium difficile, which is known to cause diarrhoea, is sprayed up to 25 centimetres above the toilet seat when you flush without putting the lid down. So have protection between your flush and your brush and keep that lid down.
2. Storage makes all the difference. Especially when you’re sick.
If your toothbrush is stored in direct contact with other toothbrushes, things can become problematic if someone in the house is sick.
One study by Sudha Rustagi College of Dental Sciences and Research and published in Journal of Advanced Medical and Dental Science found that if you store all the family toothbrushes together in one container, the bacteria can easily spread from one to the other if the heads are touching.
They recommend that you keep your toothbrushes in separate containers that will allow them to air dry.
3. It’s not what you have but how you use it.
You get what you pay for, right? Well, when it comes to toothbrushes, the answer is yes… and no. Bear with me here, because the most important thing isn’t what you use — it’s the end result.
“[Dentists] aren’t fussed if you use a stick and use it to clean your teeth effectively — as long as you do it correctly, then it’s fine. But the difference between manual and electric toothbrushes is kind of like using a powered lawn mower compared to a push lawn mower. You can still get a perfectly manicured lawn, but one machine is doing all of the hard work for you,” explains Dr Rick Luu, Canberra based dentist, healthcare enthusiast and owner of Oasis Dental.
Watch: Mia Freedman answers the toothy question she’s constantly asked. (Post continues after video.)
“When you use an electric toothbrush it does all the hard work for you. I am looking from the perspective of clean teeth – and sometimes that means going from a manual to electric toothbrush.”
So if you’re a machine with your manual there’s no reason to fork out the dollars for a fancy electric toothbrush. Check in with your dentist to see if you are using your toothbrush properly.
4. Keep your toothbrush in a place where it can dry.
If you think the easiest way to combat all of the above is to store your toothbrush in an airtight container… think again. Because it doesn’t have the correct environment to dry, it can actually encourage bacteria growth. And we don’t want that.
“If you think of anything damp, it creates a warm, humid environment. For example, the container you might use for your toothbrush when you’re travelling. Ideally, your toothbrush needs to be dry before you put it in the container. If you’re not travelling for very long, though, it isn’t something you should be overly concerned about,” Dr Luu explains. (Post continues after gallery.)
Harder softer is better, faster, stronger.
Dr Luu explains that the toothbrush market responds to what people want. Evidently, what we want are hair bristles that make us feel like we’re cleaning our teeth better — because that’s what applies to other cleaning items like dish washing tools. However, the same isn’t true for our teeth. Instead, we should be using soft, gentle bristles.
“People will scrub with harder bristles because they think it is better to clean their teeth, but that isn’t true. The plaque you’re trying to clean off is like the consistency of wet white bread — it is really soft, so it is quite easy to clean off. Brushing your teeth too hard can actually cause problems, especially wearing away at your gums,” Dr Luu says.
What are your toothbrush tips?