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Year : 2010  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 31-32

Microbial flora on toothbrush - At greater risk

1 Department of Periodontology and Oral Implantology, Rural Dental College, Loni, Maharashtra, India
2 Department of Microbiology, Rural Medical College, Loni, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication17-Dec-2010

Correspondence Address:
Rajiv Saini
Department of Periodontology and Oral Implantology, Rural Dental College, Loni, Tehsil, Rahata, District - Ahmednagar, Maharashtra - 413 736
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0331-3131.73882

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How to cite this article:
Saini R, Saini S. Microbial flora on toothbrush - At greater risk. Ann Nigerian Med 2010;4:31-2

How to cite this URL:
Saini R, Saini S. Microbial flora on toothbrush - At greater risk. Ann Nigerian Med [serial online] 2010 [cited 2021 May 6];4:31-2. Available from: https://www.anmjournal.com/text.asp?2010/4/1/31/73882


The toothbrush plays an important role for personal oral hygiene and effective plaque removal. Appropriate toothbrush care and maintenance are also important considerations for sound oral hygiene. As early as 1920, Cobb reported that toothbrushes could be the source of repeated oral infection. [1] Retention and survival of microorganisms on toothbrushes represent a possible cause of contamination of the mouth. Toothbrushes used regularly become contaminated with microorganisms, which colonize the oral cavity. [2] The bacteria, fungi and viruses can grow and multiply on toothbrush bristles and handles. The area of the toothbrush in which tufts are anchored is especially prone to contamination. Fluid and food debris can be drawn into the spaces between the tufts by capillary action, and this may lead to bacterial growth. [3] Microorganisms are present everywhere in our environment and thrive in cool, dark places, the type of places people store their toothbrushes. Toothbrushes kept in a moist environment like that of a bathroom, with its traditional, uncovered spot in the bathroom, are one of the hot spots for fecal bacteria and germs spewed into air by aerosol effect. [4] Indeed, Gerba's studies show that water droplets in an invisible cloud travel six to eight feet out and up, so the areas of bathroom not directly adjunct to the toilet are still contaminated and contaminated toothbrushes may play a role in both systemic and localized diseases [5] Depending on the storage conditions, the toothbrush can, therefore, serve as a reservoir for the reintroduction of potential pathogens. [2] The oral cavity is home to hundreds of different types of microorganisms and, therefore, it is not surprising that some of these microorganisms are transferred to the toothbrush during use. It is clear from the above facts that all of the presently available toothbrushes have the ability to be infected by a wide range of microorganisms, including microbial flora that grow well on a toothbrush. Given the fact that very often people will traumatize themselves with their toothbrush, their trauma may become a potential portal entry for organisms. Thus, it is apparent that present toothbrushes that were basically designed years back need to be re-evaluated. The toothbrush may even have bacteria on them right out of the box; proper storage is a very important aspect in toothbrush care. Thus, general recommendations for toothbrush care are:

  • Do not share toothbrushes, to prevent cross-infection.
  • Do not cover the toothbrushes. This leads to retention of moisture and prevents drying of toothbrushes, causing the formation of a so-called self-contained ecosystem for microorganisms to flourish.
  • Translucent bristles should be preferred than the colored ones as they have 50% less bacterial counts than the colored ones.
  • Brushes should never be stored in moist environments like the bathroom, to prevent moisture.
  • Rinse the toothbrush with tap water after brushing to remove any remaining debris and toothpaste.
  • Replace toothbrushes after 2-3 months. This may decrease the number of bacteria to which patients are exposed.
  • Rinsing with antibacterial mouth rinse before brushing may prevent or decrease the bacterial growth.
  • Disposable toothbrushes might be considered. However, cost may be a bigger issue with long-term use.
  • Soaking toothbrush in an antibacterial mouth rinse after use may decrease the microbial growth on toothbrushes.
  • Several commercially available toothbrush sanitizers (Germ Terminator, Purebrush and Essensia) and Brush sprays (Brushtox) are available in the market, claiming of providing a total germ-free environment.

   References Top

1.Cobb CM. Toothbrush as a source of repeated oral infections in the mouth. Boston Med J 1920;183:263-9.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Taji SS, Rogers AH. The microbial contamination of toothbrushes: A pilot study. Aust Dent J 1998;43:128-30.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Bienenbraeber V, Sponholz H, Hagin J. Characteristics of bristle end rounding and anchoring in brand new and used adult's toothbrushes. Dtsch Zahnarztl Z 1995;50:517-24.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Althaus D, Kockapan C, Wetzel WE. Bristle end rounding and anchoring in children's toothbrushes. Schweiz Monatsschr Zahnmed 1990;100:159-64.  Back to cited text no. 4
5. Glass RT, Lare MM. Toothbrush contamination: a potential health risk. Quintessence Int 1986; 17: 39-42.  Back to cited text no. 5

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