Do You Really Need to Toss Your Toothbrush After Illness?

After you’ve recovered from an illness like the flu or a bad cold, you probably go through a cleansing routine: Wash all the linens in hot water, disinfect the house from top to bottom, toss out all the empty containers of Tamiflu or cough syrup, and then buy a new toothbrush. But do you really need to replace your old toothbrush after you’ve been sick?


According to a study that was presented at the May 4, 2013 Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting, tossing out your toothbrush may not be necessary after all. Researchers at The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, TX took it upon themselves to conduct an interesting toothbrush experiment.

The Toothbrush Study

The researchers tried to grow Streptococcus (GAS) bacteria on toothbrushes that had already been exposed to the bacteria in their lab. The bacteria grew and remained on the toothbrush for 48 hours. They then tried to grow GAS on toothbrushes used by children with strep throat. They used patients who were both diagnosed with strep throat, and some with just sore throats but no strep diagnosis. They also had 27 subjects who were not ill participate.

The patients brushed their teeth for one minute with a new toothbrush, and then the brushes were resealed in sterile covers, then taken to a lab to be tested for GAS growth.

The Results

Only one toothbrush out of 54 had GAS, and it was recovered from a toothbrush used by a subject without strep throat. All other brushes only grew bacteria that are commonly found in the mouth.

The co-author of the study, Judith L. Rowen, MD, associate professor of pediatrics in the Department of Pediatrics at UTMB, concluded, “This study supports that it is probably unnecessary to throw away your toothbrush after a diagnosis of strep throat.”

This small but interesting study may be enough evidence that you can continue to use your toothbrush following an bout of strep. It is important to note that you should replace your toothbrush every 2-3 months, and do not share toothbrushes, even with your loved ones!

For more fun dental information, come see our friendly staff at Palos Heights Family Dental!

Schedule your annual dental check-up today!!

Schedule an Appointment
Do You Really Need to Toss Your Toothbrush After Illness? was last modified: June 16th, 2020 by Palos Heights Family Dental