Toothbrushes

Post-Flu, How Unclean Is Your Toothbrush?

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Some of you must have heard how important it is to get your little ones' new toothbrushes after a bout of flu or strep throat, but a new study finds that it's perhaps not necessary.

A new research from University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston challenges this assumption. In fact, they were unable to find any strep germs on more than a dozen toothbrushes used by children with strep throat.

What they did find was a growth of Streptococcus pyogenes (GAS) on two brand new toothbrushes right out the package.

In a telephone interview with NBC, lead researcher Dr. Lauren Shepard said, “When we took them (new toothbrushes) straight out of the package using our own sterile techniques… both of them grew something. One grew staphylococcus, a fairly common bacteria and another grew some type of bacillus, perhaps E. coli or some other very common germ.”

People should never share toothbrushes or store them in closed containers that might encourage the growth of bacteria.

“Even the microbiologists thought that was pretty gross,” she said. “They were like, ‘Oh, I can’t believe they grew stuff!”

“This study supports that it is probably unnecessary to throw away your toothbrush after a diagnosis of strep throat,” said co-author Dr. Judith L. Rowen.

Though the American Dental Association agrees there's little evidence that any germs on a toothbrush could hurt you, they maintained that people should never share toothbrushes or store them in closed containers that might encourage the growth of bacteria. They also said that toothbrushes should be thoroughly rinsed and replaced every three to four months mostly because they become frayed and less effective.

How often do you replace your toothbrush?