The Gross Reason You Probably Need a New Toothbrush

June 8, 2015

Whether it’s a fancy sonic model or a bargain-bin drugstore find, your toothbrush has pretty much one job: to keep your mouth clean. But if you share a bathroom with other people, it turns out those bristles are carrying a dark secret along with that toothpaste.

There’s no sugarcoating the truth here: According to new research, your toothbrush is likely full of poo.

Cover your eyes if you must, but a new study out of Quinnipiac University revealed that in communal bathrooms poop gets…everywhere. When researchers tested toothbrushes of students using shared restrooms, more than 60 percent of them contained fecal matter.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the waste particles on each of those toothbrushes had an 80 percent chance of coming from someone else. And that’s the most problematic part of the findings, according to researcher Lauren Aber.

“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,” Aber said in a statement.

What’s even more gross is that the study found that several cleaning methods—rinsing with cold water, hot water, and mouthwash—didn’t do anything to reduce the number of bacteria. Toothbrush covers didn’t make any difference, either.

The best way to keep stuff that belongs in the toilet out of your mouth? Replacing your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months, as the American Dental Association recommends. After all, a new toothbrush is a clean toothbrush!

Photo credit: Kyle Wagaman via Flickr

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Annalise Mantz

Annalise is a foodie, Brussels sprouts lover, grammar nerd, and political pet aficionado.

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