While you probably know that your hands are always carrying germs, you may not know that your mouth is also teeming with germs, so you may want to think twice before sharing your toothbrush.
As harmless as sharing a toothbrush may sound, it comes with a lot of unnecessary health risks—ones that could even kill you.
According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, the mouth harbours as much as 700 species of bacteria at any given time.
These bacteria can be effortlessly shared via kissing, drinking out of the same cup, and yes, using someone else’s toothbrush; because you’re technically swapping bodily fluids (saliva).
Although not all of the bacteria found in the mouth are harmful, some like staph and E. coli, can lead to infection and illness.
The common cold and strep throat can easily be spread, especially among children, and are probably the more likely outcomes of sharing a toothbrush, but severe illnesses and diseases like herpes, pneumonia, and even HIV and HPV, can also be transmitted via toothbrush swapping.
Sharing a toothbrush means that whatever was in your friend’s mouth is now in your mouth. And if the person whose toothbrush you borrowed doesn’t rinse and clean it properly, it’s likely that day-old food particles stuck on the brush will end up stuck in your mouth, which is quite gross to say the least.
If you ever happen to be stranded without a toothbrush and no drugstore in sight, using your finger or a washcloth is a better alternative than grabbing a friend’s toothbrush.
Asides making sure you’re the only person using your toothbrush, you should also make sure you’re cleaning it properly.
Dentists recommend rinsing your toothbrush with water after every use and storing in an upright position, separate from other toothbrushes, because you don’t want them accidentally touching. Also periodically rinse with warm water and allow it to dry.
Furthermore, you can rinse with Listerine, baking soda, and/or alcohol for an extra deep cleaning every couple of days.
Experts also advises replacing them at least every 2 to 3 months, and always immediately after illnesses like the flu or cold.