According to new research from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Dentistry, the design of your toothbrush may expose you to more oral bacteria. Hollow-head electric toothbrushes were found to have up to 3000 times more oral bacteria than solid-head designs.

All Organisms Thrive on Hollow Head Toothbrushes

Researchers had participants who qualified for the study brush with one of three randomly-selected toothbrushes each day for a period of three weeks. They didn’t use any type of antibacterial product, such as an antibacterial toothpaste or mouthwash. After the study was complete, toothbrushes were evaluated for the level of microorganisms they had in each of five categories:

  • Anaerobes (which contribute to bad breath) and facilitating organisms
  • Yeast and mold (which can cause thrush)
  • Oral streptococci and enterococci (which can contribute to tooth decay, gum disease, tooth infections and root canal failure)
  • Porphyromonas gingivalis (another prime culprit in gum disease)
  • Fusobacterium species (also implicated in gum disease, and has been linked to colorectal cancer)

They found that all five categories of microorganisms were present in significantly greater numbers on hollow-head toothbrushes, and in some cases were found in concentrations up to 3000 times that found on the solid-head electric toothbrushes.

A Cause for Alarm?

Although it’s certainly troubling to learn that our toothbrushes may contain more bacteria than other types, it may not actually be anything worth worrying about, although the media will certainly spin the story that way, which is the way the UTHealth researchers are leading us.

In the news release from UTHealth, the lead researcher, Donna Warren Morris, says, “Toothbrushes can transmit microorganisms that cause disease and infections. A solid-head design allows for less growth of bacteria and bristles should be soft and made of nylon. It is also important to disinfect and to let your toothbrush dry between uses. Some power toothbrushes now include an ultraviolet system or you can soak the head in mouthwash for 20 minutes.” This statement would certainly lead us to believe that this is a serious concern.

However, later in the press release, it is acknowledged that “there is no present or published study that has demonstrated that bacterial growth on toothbrushes can lead to systematic health effects.”  In other words, it may be much ado about nothing, and certainly this study doesn’t indicate that there’s any adverse effect one way or the other.

There are many scientifically-proven ways to reduce your risk of gum disease, including seeing a dentist regularly. If you are looking for a Beverly Hills dentist, please call 310-275-5325 today for an appointment at Ravon Knopf.