What Happens When Toothbrushes Are Shared?
Forgetting your toothbrush during an overnight stay or accidentally swapping out the wrong brush can easily lead to sharing toothbrushes. Sharing a toothbrush causes an array of hygiene problems. A toothbrush harbors food particles that are naked to the human eye. These are left behind after you brush, allowing bacteria to form. Sharing toothbrushes is not a good idea, regardless if you practice good oral hygiene or not.
On average, you may use your toothbrush once or twice a day. If more than one person is using the same toothbrush it can begin to break down faster and cause problems in the mouth, explains the Dentistry website. The breakdown of bristles can scratch at your gums and promote receding gums that shift away from the teeth. It can also lead to bristles breaking off inside your mouth.
The Chicago Dental Society states that children who use each other’s toothbrushes are at a higher risk for developing infection which can lead to cavities and tooth decay. The reason for this is the high amount of bacteria and fungus that can be found on toothbrushes. If left untreated, it can result in tooth loss in your child that leads to impaired speech development and the inability to concentrate in school as mentioned by Georgetown University.
One pitfall when sharing your toothbrush is the amount of bacteria that can be found on it after each use, explains the Dental Resource website. One of the main bacteria culprits found on your toothbrush could be beta-hemolytic streptococcus, a bacteria that causes strep throat. This can cause you to get extremely sick and suffer from symptoms such as a sore throat, fever, cough, swollen lymph nodes and difficulty in swallowing. Mutant strains of streptococcus cause dental cavities. This type of bacteria is commonly found on toothbrushes that contain food and residue.
Life of a Toothbrush
According to the Library of Congress, the first modern toothbrush with nylon bristles was not invented until 1938. According to the Dentistry website, the average toothbrush should only be used three months at a time. After that, the toothbrush should be discarded.
There are ways to sanitize your toothbrush to kill germs and bacteria, according to the Mom's Budget website. This is a temporary solution until you can buy new toothbrushes. One way is to clean your toothbrush with a bleach solution. Mix 1 cup water and 2 tbsp. of bleach, place your toothbrush bristle side down into the solution and allow to soak overnight. Make sure to rinse thoroughly with warm water before reusing.
- toothbrush image by Christopher Hall from Fotolia.com