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Sharing toothpaste linked with spread of COVID-19

by Evesham Dental, on 14th December 2020 | Comments Off on Sharing toothpaste linked with spread of COVID-19

New research showing how sharing toothbrushes and toothpaste could play an influential role in spreading COVID-19 is being highlighted by dentists in Evesham.

Evesham Dental Health Team on Broadway Road is urging people not to share a toothbrush, tube of toothpaste or even store their toothbrushes together in the same container in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus in Worcestershire, Warwickshire and Gloucestershire.

The latest study published in BMC Oral Health showed that these oral hygiene habits and not changing brushes after the viral process, were all possible routes of cross-contamination of coronavirus.

Hundreds of families monitored over the course of 15 days found over half (55%) of COVID-positive people who share a toothbrush passed the virus onto other family members in the household.

Would you be happy to share your toothbrush?

Latest figures collected by the Oral Health Foundation charity show that around one-in-four (26%) Brits are openly willing the share their toothbrush with others. Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, believes oral hygiene habits like sharing toothbrushes are linked to the transmission of many diseases and should be discouraged.

Dr Carter says: “There are many hundreds of different bacteria and viruses in our mouths and those sharing a toothbrush could be passing these on to others.

“While this might be something relatively harmless, such as a common cold or cold sore, if the person you are sharing with is infected with viruses like hepatitis B and now coronavirus, these could also be passed on via the toothbrush, with severe health consequences.”

Dry toothbrushes separately

In addition to sharing a toothbrush, the research published discovered an even greater risk for families leaving their toothbrushes in the same container. Two-in-three (66%) people who tested positive for coronavirus and who share a toothbrush container with family members, passed the virus on to them.

Further findings showed the same tube of toothpaste should also not be used between members of the same family, as this is another way of facilitating cross-contamination. Households with a COVID-positive member increase their risk of spreading the virus by almost a third (30%) if they share the same tube of toothpaste.

What is recommended?

But people who disinfect their brush in an antibacterial mouthwash reduce their chances of passing the virus onto family members in the household by more than a third (39%). The study also found that tongue cleaning was the most effective oral hygiene habit in reducing the spread of the virus.

The paper noted that mouth is an early target of infection for COVID-19, especially the tongue, which is a great reservoir of viral germs.

How should I store my toothbrush?

“Storing toothbrushes in the same container has always been a bad idea, but today this separation has become a real necessity,” adds Dr Carter.  “This is especially important if a person has the virus without the symptoms, as they could be unknowingly spreading the virus to loved ones.

“It is important to store your toothbrush away from others, in a dry place and with the brush head pointing upwards. This allows the bristles to dry faster and hinders the spread of any virus or bacteria that may be lingering on the brush.  If you know you are infected, soaking your brush in an antibacterial mouthwash after brushing could also help kill any bacteria and viruses on the toothbrush.”

In the same investigation, more than half (54%) of those who did not change their toothbrush after being tested positive for COVID-19, passed the virus on to other people in their household.

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