We are all guilty of scrolling through TikTok videos for easy entertainment. We may even be guilty of spending too much time there! And some of us are even willing to put our dance moves out there for all to see. So what does this have to do with dentistry?
The Things We Learn on TikTok!
Dr. Jordan Brown, a Florida dentist active on TikTok, has warned his viewers about the potential contamination of their toothbrushes by fecal matter. In a video recently shared on his account, he stated that if you can see the toilet and your toothbrush without moving your head, there is a 99 percent chance of poop particles being on the toothbrush. This is caused by aerosols from the toilet spray that can go into the air and settle on nearby surfaces, including your toothbrush.
Brown’s followers have responded to the news with shock and horror, taking extra precautions to protect their dental – and toothbrush – hygiene.
The issue Brown raised is not exactly a new one, but with so many discussions swirling around TikTok and social media recently, we wanted to address it.
A 2015 research study by a team from Quinnipiac University in Connecticut showed that around 60 percent of toothbrushes in shared bathrooms had traces of fecal matter.
The study found that in shared bathrooms, there is an 80 percent chance that the fecal matter on the toothbrush came from someone other than the toothbrush’s owner.
In 2012, researchers at Manchester University in England discovered that the average toothbrush can harbor up to 10 million bacteria.
What Are Toilet Aerosols?
Toilet aerosols are produced during the flushing process and may disperse up to 6 feet. These aerosols can carry bacteria, viruses and fecal matter that can settle on surfaces in the immediate vicinity – including nearby toothbrushes.
Certain germs in these aerosols can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to flu and even hepatitis A.
To avoid contamination, ensure that your toothbrush is kept away from the toilet. If you can view both without changing your visual line of sight, then it may be time to reposition your brush.
It is important to close the toilet lid before flushing to prevent toilet aerosols from getting out of the bowl.
You should also bear in mind that this risk is associated with bathrooms lacking sufficient space between the toilet and sink. Those with enough space between these two fixtures are not likely to experience the same issue. But no matter how big your bathroom is, you should still take precautionary measures such a keeping the toilet lid shut when flushing.
Guidelines for Storing a Toothbrush
It is important to keep your toothbrush stored in a dry, closed container or toothbrush holder away from the toilet and possible sources of contamination. This helps you avoid any risk of exposure to particles that could be harmful.
You should also store your toothbrush so that it does not touch anyone else’s in the holder, and when traveling, a toothbrush cover should be used to ensure the protection of the toothbrush in close-quarters hotel bathrooms.
Toothbrushes should be replaced every three months or after illness to avoid potential infection by re-exposure to bacteria and viruses.
And most importantly, do not share toothbrushes, as it may cause the transmission of germs and increase the risk of gum disease and other dental hygiene issues.
It’s not the most pleasant topic to think about, but it is important to be aware that fecal contamination of toothbrushes is a potential hazard. Practicing proper hygiene measures such as keeping the toothbrush at a distance from the toilet, using a lid when flushing and replacing your toothbrush frequently can reduce the chances of developing complications or illness.
Is Investing in a Toothbrush Sanitizer a Good Idea?
If you are concerned about the potential for your toothbrush to be contaminated with fecal matter, a toothbrush sanitizer may be a viable option in order to ensure you prevent bacteria and germs.
A toothbrush sanitizer can emit ultraviolet light or ozone gas to eliminate bacteria and viruses on the bristles. This reduces the risk of contamination and provides peace of mind to users.
Ultimately, we recommend common sense, great oral hygiene routines at home, and regular visits to see us!