Toothbrushes are supposed to keep our pearly whites clean and yet are themselves full of germs. You have to know that.
The reason for this is not the large number of germs that the researchers found. It has long been known that the amount is comparable to that on towels or washcloths. Rather, the proven germ mix is unsavory.
The team led by Ryan A. Blaustein from Northwestern University in the state of Illinois came across not only typical oral bacteria, but also gut bacteria and germs that are resistant to antibiotics.
Toothbrushes are extreme places
A worrying find and a “milestone in toothbrush research”, explains Markus Egert, Professor of Microbiology at Furtwangen University, in an interview with “Spiegel.de”. Because “certain proteins that destroy the antibiotic or transport it out of the bacterial cell” are responsible for the antibiotic resistance. And Blaustein and his team found 176 different types of them. That is a lot.
But the expert is not really surprised by the find: From a microbiological point of view, toothbrushes are extreme places. “Antimicrobial agents in toothpaste and mouthwash and the constant change between wet and dry mean enormous stress for most microbes.” Accordingly, only the toughest would survive there.
At least every three months
The best way to do this is to store it upright in a toothbrush cup. To avoid passing cold viruses from one toothbrush to another, they should be positioned so that they don’t touch.
But no matter how carefully you treat the toothbrush: It must be replaced after three months at the latest, because the bristles lose their flexibility over time and become deformed. If this is the case, they no longer manage to penetrate the small nooks and crannies on the gumline and the spaces between the teeth. In addition, studies have shown that the toothbrushes remove plaque much worse than their new counterparts after three months.
The brushes only have to be changed more frequently if you have been sick before, otherwise the germs in the bristles will cause another outbreak.