Cosmetic Dentistry Blog Cosmetic and General Dentistry Questions Answered

January 27, 2017

What to do about that germ-laden toothbrush

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This idea that you should throw away your toothbrush after you’ve been sick is getting out of hand. I just saw that recommendation again on two dental blogs this past week. It’s not true. This is an idea that has been pushed by toothbrush companies that is not backed by any scientific research whatsoever. In fact, my research turned up only one scientific study on the subject—a 2013 study at the University of Texas that was published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. It showed that transmission of strep throat via toothbrush did not happen.

Here is a promotional display that I found in a local Walmart:

Should you change your toothbrush after a cold?

There is no scientific evidence to back up this claim.

Yes, you can catch a cold right on the heels of recovering from a cold. But it will be a different cold virus—not the one you just fought off. You have developed antibodies to that virus and are now immune to that particular strain. So you can’t reinfect yourself. So says Dr. Caroline Rudnick, an assistant professor of community and family medicine at St. Louis University.

You can sterilize your toothbrush

If that’s not enough to satisfy you, you have another option—sterilize your toothbrush. How? With simple chlorine bleach (e.g. Clorox). The Centers for Disease Control explain the excellent bactericidal properties of chlorine bleach. Just put a little bleach into a cup, enough to cover the head of the brush, soak your brush in it for about five minutes, rinse, and you’ve got a sterilized brush, cleaner than when you opened the package. There will be no residue or aftertaste.

Chlorine bleach would be used in medical and dental applications except for some negative properties. It bleaches clothes and other objects, and it is extremely corrosive to metal. It also can form toxic chemicals if allowed to come into contact with certain other medical disinfectants.

– Dr. Hall

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About David A. Hall

Dr. David Hall was one of the first 40 accredited cosmetic dentists in the world. He practiced cosmetic dentistry in Iowa, and in 1990 earned his accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is now president of Infinity Dental Web, a company in Mesa, Arizona that does complete Internet marketing for dentists.

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