Communal bathroom use associated with fecal contamination of toothbrushes
When researchers cultured the toothbrushes of college students who used communal bathrooms, they found that 60 percent of them were contaminated with fecal bacteria, and that there was an 80 percent chance the contamination came from a student other than the one who owned the toothbrush.
A summary of this research is at:
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If you or someone you know (your son, daughter, niece, nephew, etc.) will be going away to college in the fall and will be sharing a bathroom with others students, take action to minimize the risk fecal contamination on your toothbrush.
According the American Dental Association:
- Don’t share toothbrushes – with anyone!
- Rinse the toothbrush with tap water after use and store it upright to allow it to air-dry.
- If toothbrushes are in a holder, make sure they are far enough apart to prevent cross-contamination
- Do not use toothbrush covers – these actually encourage bacterial growth by keeping the bristle moist.
- Replace toothbrushes at least once every four months.
For more information:
Joanna Hayden, PhD, CHES is the principal of Associates for Health Education and Behavior, LLC, in Sparta, a practice focused on improving health through education. Her office offers individual and group health education, and individual health behavior change guidance. For more information please see www.associatesforhealth.com To contact Dr. Hayden, email her firstname.lastname@example.org
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