There was recent speculation that it may be best to discard one’s toothbrush after having the flu or strep throat. But a study explained at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting in Washington debunked that belief.
A group of researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston set out to study this issue.
To conduct the study, the research team attempted to grow group A Streptococcus, the bacteria associated with strep throat, on adult toothbrushes that were exposed to the bacteria in a laboratory. The bacteria were present on the toothbrushes for at least two full days.
Two new toothbrushes not exposed to the bacteria also happened to grow bacteria even though they were taken out of the packages in a sterile manner.
The study was then conducted on children’s toothbrushes. To compile the data, the toothbrush users comprised 14 patients ages 2 through 20 with strep throat, 13 patients in that age group with sore throats and 27 healthy patients. The toothbrushes were then placed in a sterile cover to make testing possible.
The bacteria were only discovered on one of the toothbrushes and it happened to come from one of the healthy children. The other toothbrushes didn’t grow streptococcus, rather they developed other bacteria that are present in the mouth.
To further confirm the fact that toothbrushes are fine to use after having a sore throat, however, a more widespread study is necessary.