Should I Toss My Toothnrush After A Sore Throat?
By now you have probably heard the commonly held belief that you should replace your toothbrush if you used it while suffering from a cold, the flu, or strep throat. However, when it comes to sore throats, it may not be necessary to throw your toothbrush away according to a study done by researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston. Their findings were presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
The Study: Part 1
The researchers conducted their study in two parts. For the first part, they tried to grow the bacteria that cause strep throat, group A Streptococcus (GAS), on toothbrushes by exposing them to the bacteria in the laboratory. The GAS bacteria did grow on the toothbrushes and remained for at least 48 hours. There were also two new toothbrushes used as controls that were not exposed to the GAS bacteria. These toothbrushes were removed from their packages in a sterile manner and interestingly grew other bacteria that included gram-negative bacilli and gram-positive cocci or Staphylococcus. The researchers did not investigate this growth any further because the focus was on GAS bacteria.
The Study: Part 2
In the second part of the study, the researchers investigated whether GAS would grow on toothbrushes used by children diagnosed with strep throat. This study consisted of 14 patients diagnosed with strep throat, 13 patients with a sore throat but not strep throat, and 27 healthy patients all aged between 2 and 20 years. Each participant was instructed to brush their teeth for one minute with a new toothbrush that was then transported to the laboratory in a sterile cover to be tested for GAS growth. Only one toothbrush used by a participant without strep throat had GAS growth while the other toothbrushes had no GAS growth but showed growth of other bacteria commonly found in the mouth.
According to study co-author Judith L. Rowen, MD, associate professor of pediatrics in the Department of Pediatrics at UTMB, “This study supports that it is probably unnecessary to throw away your toothbrush after a diagnosis of strep throat.” However, co-author Lauren K. Shepard, DO, a resident physician in the Department of Pediatrics at UTMB, noted that this study was small and that a larger study would be needed to confirm that GAS bacteria will not grow on toothbrushes used by children with strep throat in their homes.
If you do feel the need to throw out your toothbrush after a diagnosis of strep throat, don’t be afraid to talk to your dentist about recommendations for purchasing your next toothbrush.
American Academy of Pediatrics. “No Need To Toss Your Toothbrush After A Sore Throat.”Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 7 May. 2013. Web.
13 May. 2013. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/260112.php