Researchers are from the Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn.
For the study researchers have analyzed toothbrushes from Quinnipiac students who used communal bathrooms with an average of more than nine users per bathroom.
It was found that regardless of the student’s toothpaste storage methods; at least 60 percent of the toothbrushes were contaminated with fecal matter.
It was also found that there is 80 percent chance that fecal matter on the toothbrushes came from another person using the bathroom, when flushing would spread matter through the air.
Lauren Aber of the Quinnipiac University and the lead author of the study said, “The main concern is not with the presence of your own fecal matter on your toothbrush but rather when a toothbrush is contaminated with fecal matter from someone else, which contains bacteria, viruses or parasites that are not part of your normal flora (microbes).”
Her team found that there is no difference in the effectiveness of methods used to clean toothbrushes including rinsing with mouthwash or cold or hot water.
Aber further added, “Using a toothbrush cover doesn’t protect a toothbrush from bacterial growth but actually creates an environment where bacteria are better suited to grow by keeping the bristles moist and not allowing the head of the toothbrush to dry out between uses.”
She said, “Better hygiene practices are recommended for students who share bathrooms both in the storage of their toothbrush but also in personal hygiene.”
The American Dental Association recommends avoiding the sharing of toothbrushes. Rinsing the brush using and allowing to air-dry upright; and replacing brushed at least every four months.
The findings of the study are presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Microbiology in New-Orleans.
The data and the conclusions provided by the study should be viewed as preliminary until it is published in a peer reviewed journal.