You will never believe some of the searches we get on the 1Dental.com Blog. Sometimes it helps us determine what information people really want to know, so that we can write a helpful post on that topic (like this one on Choosing a New Dentist). Other common searches, however, are slightly more entertaining. One such topic is that of toothbrushes and toilet water.
In the interest of providing a more direct answer for those who are unsure, this post will address the case of whether a toothbrush should be placed near a toilet, and if, in fact, the flush spray can affect said toothbrush.
The Anatomy of a Toilet Flush
Let’s break down the situation to see what actually happens when you flush the toilet. Whenever the water goes spinning down into the abyss, it creates what is known as the “aerosol effect.” This means that as water is being sucked down, a tiny spray of water is being ejected from the toilet at the same time. You can’t see it, but researchers have found that the invisible cloud can extend several feet up and out of the toilet bowl.
Check out this time warp video from the Discovery Channel that uses dry ice to show the toilet plume:
You wouldn’t store your food just a few inches away from the toilet, so your toothbrush shouldn’t be right next to the toilet either. You put both in your mouth! Many times the sink is right next to the toilet, especially in small bathrooms, but it basically just means don’t put your toothbrush on the side closest to the toilet. If you want to take an extra precaution, simply put down the toilet lid when you flush.
Your Toothbrush as a Germ-Mobile
The head of your toothbrush is already a sensitive environment even without a delicate mist of toilet water. Your mouth contains hundreds of bacteria, and most do not harm you. Your toothbrush naturally carries some of these bacteria in its bristles. That’s fine. The problem occurs when all kinds of additional germs come in contact with the brush. Rinse it thoroughly after each use, replace it every 3-4 months, and let it fully air-dry after each use.
Using a toothbrush cover for any reason other than travel actually favors bacterial growth in the moist, enclosed environment, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As mentioned before, if you can’t cover your toothbrush, cover the toilet.
And in answer to some other actual questions we’ve seen:
- “scrubbing a toilet with someone’s toothbrush”
- “how to clean up your toothbrush after someone put it in the toilet”
I have your answer for you. No. Just, no.
Buy a new toothbrush for $0.88 and make the world a happier place.
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Also: If you were wondering whether it’s okay to share a toothbrush with someone (another common search), please refer to this post for answers: Toothbrush – Taking Germs Out, or Putting Them Back In?