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What is the best way to keep your toothbrush clean?

At Heritage Dental Hygiene we are often asked what is the best way to keep your toothbrush head clean between uses. Here are a few thoughts on the subject, including some information regarding the latest findings on charcoal toothbrushes.

It is important to remember that your toothbrush can be easily contaminated with pathogenic bacteria from dental plaque, the environment or a combination of factors (Lee et al, 2017).

Here is a thought to ponder – researchers have found that brushes stored in the bathroom are likely to have fecal matter lingering in the bristles.

In response to these concerns, the Charcoal Toothbrush is one of the latest go-to products to enter the market to keep your mouth clean. Charcoal toothbrushes are popular in South-east Asian countries like Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.  Consumers can also purchase charcoal toothbrushes from on-line vendors. The bristles are black and are prepared by blending binchotan charcoal into nylon bristles. The manufacturers of these toothbrushes claim that they have antimicrobial properties because of the charcoal in them.

I recently read a study in the June 2017 Canadian Journal of Dental Hygiene that compared the bacterial contamination in bristles of charcoal toothbrushes versus non-charcoal toothbrushes.

I thought I would share the findings with you!

Mehta et al studied the effectiveness of various methods of reducing bacterial contamination of toothbrushes including covering the toothbrush head with a plastic cap, overnight immersion of the toothbrushes in Listerine and overnight immersion of toothbrushes in chlorhexidine.  Each method was tested for one week. The results revealed that overnight immersion of a toothbrush in 0.2% chlorhexidine gluconate was more effective than that of overnight immersion in Listerine or covering the toothbrush head with a plastic cap.

The results revealed, “substantially lower CFU counts in agar plates for the used charcoal bristles compared with used non-charcoal bristles. However, the difference was not statistically significant (Lee et al, 2017, p. 72).”  Based on this finding we can conclude that purchasing a charcoal toothbrush may be useful, however, the disinfection properties may not be statistically significant enough for one to feel secure in their choice.

What is the best way to disinfect your toothbrush according to this study?

According to Lee et al (2017), “UV light is capable of deactivating the micro-organisms by disrupting the chemical bonds that hold the DNA atoms” (p. 73). We have seen UV sanitizers available from Philips Sonicare in the past.

Basman et al studied toothbrush disinfection using 0.12% chlorhexidine gluconate, 2% sodium hypochlorite (Na0CL), a mouth rinse containing essential oils mixed with Listerine or alcohol, and 50% white vinegar.

“The most effective method for elimination of all tested bacterial species was found to be 50% white vinegar. Followed by 2% sodium hypochlorite Na0CL.  Coming in last was the mouth rinse containing essential oils and alcohol and the 0.12% chlorhexidine gluconate” (Lee et al, 2017).

Performing good oral hygiene practices is key to preventing dental disease.  

At Heritage Dental Hygiene we are always reading and researching the latest in oral hygiene product information to keep you informed.

Source Lee, J., Palaniappan, K., Hwai, T. T., Kit, C. W.,Dicksit, D. D., CG, K.,  … Ramachandra, S. S. (2017). Comparison of Bacterial Contamination in Bristles of Charcoal Toothbrushes Versus Non-Charcoal Toothbrushes. Canadian Journal of Dental Hygiene,51(2), 69-74.

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