60% of Toothbrushes Have Fecal Matter on Them—Here's How to Avoid It

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Where do you keep your toothbrush? A medicine cabinet? A traditional toothbrush holder on your bathroom vanity? Turns out, your answer to this question may greatly affect your toothbrush's level of sanitation, especially if you share a bathroom with friends, family or anyone else.

According to DailyMail, researchers at an American Society for Microbiology meeting presented a study revealing some pretty horrific results: 60 percent of toothbrushes analyzed in communal bathrooms at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut tested positive for fecal bacteria. Yes, you read that right.

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Even more disgusting is that the research showed that if you share a bathroom, there’s an 80 percent chance the fecal bacteria will come from someone else’s waste. “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,” said Lauren Aber, one of the researchers and a graduate student at Quinnipiac.

And don't think you're exempt from the spread of bacteria just because you use one of those plastic covers for you toothbrush. “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," Aber explained. 

New York cosmetic dentist Zachary Linhart, DDS, says he believes most things in our bathrooms contain fecal particles. "Whether this is dangerous or not, it is certainly disgusting! We created a toothbrush with nano silver–infused bristles that have been shown to kill more than 99 percent of bacteria, which is one way to prevent this from happening. Buying a specific device to kill the bacteria may not be necessary, but if you're not going to choose either of these methods, placing your toothbrush in a medicine cabinet when it's not in use is probably a good idea!"

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If you are interested in using a device to eliminate any lingering bacteria on your toothbrush, Fort Washington, PA, prosthodontist, Thomas Balshi, DDS, says quite a few are commonly available that will sanitize, and even sterilize, your toothbrush in between brushings. "These depend on the use of ultraviolet lights, which are well-known to destroy micro-organisms. They are used in HVAC systems to eliminate mold in the duct work."

Although these germ-killing toothbrush gadgets already exist, DailyMail reports there is a new one launching in November called Puretta, which claims to get rid of 99.9 percent of bacteria using medical-grade UV light. The difference between this one and others on the market, is that it holds four toothbrushes rather than one, as well as a razor, a tube of toothpaste and three packs of floss. Plus, it conveniently attaches right to your bathroom wall. If you share a bathroom with others, this sounds like a no-brainer.

Image/Puretta

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