Should you throw away your toothbrush and replace it with a new one after being treated for a strep throat? I have always recommended doing so, making the assumption that the strep bacteria would remain on the toothbrush. Apparently, I am wrong! The author of a new study is surprised as well:
“I was just dumbfounded,” says Dr. Lauren Shepard of the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTBM) in Galveston, who will present her findings on Saturday at a meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies.
Maggie Fox presents the results:
Tests of toothbrushes from more than 40 children showed just one contaminated with group A Streptococcus – the bacteria that causes strep throat. And that one came from a child who did not have strep throat. Not a single toothbrush from 16 kids with strep throat produced the bacteria.
So when should we dispose of our toothbrushes? Fox asked the experts:
The American Dental Association agrees there’s little evidence that any germs on a toothbrush could hurt you. But the organization recommends that people not share toothbrushes or store them in closed containers that might encourage the growth of bacteria. They should be thoroughly rinsed, and replaced every three to four months –mostly because they become frayed and less effective.
This is a very small study (40 subjects). It shouldn’t be difficult to reproduce it with more people and their toothbrushes.