You can share a kiss. You can share a fork. But how about sharing a toothbrush? Since they all involve your mouth, it’s probably okay, right?

Wrong!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that sharing a toothbrush can leave you susceptible to all kinds of oral and general health problems. Just because you kiss a loved one or use their spoon or fork to taste their dinner, it’s just not the same as sharing a toothbrush.

The Chicago Dental Society states that children who use each other’s toothbrushes are at a higher risk for developing infection which can lead to cavities and tooth decay. A high amount of bacteria and fungus can be found on toothbrushes. If children share toothbrushes, this shared bacteria and fungus can also result in tooth loss that may lead to impaired speech development and even the inability to concentrate in school.

The CDC suggests that we take our toothbrush for granted, as an important tool and critical part of our daily oral health routine. Although most toothbrushes are used twice a day for months on end, they’re rarely cleaned thoroughly, and are often kept in warm, moist bathrooms, an environment ideal for bacterial growth.

Most of us enjoy healthy mouths, but some individuals suffer oral conditions that simply are not worthy of sharing. Brushing sometimes causes the gums to bleed, which exposes anyone you share your toothbrush with to any bloodstream diseases. Couples who share a toothbrush are actually sharing blood, which is a lot riskier than just sharing saliva. Plus, there are many hundreds of different bacteria and viruses in our mouths which can stay on the toothbrush, now being shared. Some bacteria might seem harmless, like the common cold, but one bacteria found on a toothbrush could be beta-hemolytic streptococcus, or “strep”, a bacteria that causes strep throat. This can make you very sick with a sore throat, fever, cough, swollen lymph nodes and difficulty in swallowing. Mutant strains of strep cause dental cavities. More dangerous bacteria from a virus such hepatitis B or HIV, can have life threatening consequences.

So, I recommend that your toothbrush belongs to you, and only you. Go out and purchase some inexpensive, soft-bristled toothbrushes to keep in your home for unexpected guests, or if a toothbrush accidentally falls into the toilet! In the meantime follow these simple rules for your healthy toothbrush: No sharing! After brushing, rinse your toothbrush thoroughly with tap water to remove toothpaste and debris, and air-dry in an upright position. Do not cover your toothbrush or store in a closed container. Don’t use a dishwasher or microwave oven to clean or disinfect your toothbrush. And replace your toothbrush or toothbrush head every 3-4 months, and always after illness, according to the American Dental Association (ADA).

More good Oral Health Rules to come, so stay tuned!

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