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Aug 8 / Hannah

Don’t Flush Your Toothbrush

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Toilet bowl flushing with lid up

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.

┬áDo you have any questions you’d like the 1Dental.com Blog to answer?

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?

 

8 Comments

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  1. Joy / Aug 21 2011

    This is quite disturbing…

  2. Emily / Aug 18 2011

    Ew! Good point- 88 cents for a new toothbrush is a very small price to pay to have a germ-free toothbrush. Makes me want to stock up on toothbrushes. I’ve never heard of cleaning it with hydrogen peroxide. I’ll have to try that.

  3. Lamehia / Aug 11 2011

    Huh! I’ll really keep my tooth brush as far away as possible from the toilet. This post is nice. People should have an idea about this.

  4. MsAngelStarr / Aug 8 2011

    Ha! I think its sad that people need to be informed about this, but it’s true!
    Great post!
    I wince every time I see a big cup of toothbrushes on the sink right next to the toilet. Our toothbrushes have always lived in the medicine cabinet.
    Thanks for coming by my blog today! Have a great evening!
    Angela

  5. Annie / Aug 8 2011

    hahaha i love the – “No. Just, no.” I definitely keep my toothbrush as far away from the toilet as possible and I clean it with hydrogen peroxide on a very regular basis.

    • Hannah / Aug 8 2011

      Way to go, Annie! It’s amazing how many people don’t even think about it. Feel free to pass it along! :-)

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