It is that time of year where we send our loved ones off to college. There is something bittersweet about a child leaving home for the first time. It also makes us reflect on our own college experiences. We can all remember how disgusting the communal restroom situation can be — wearing flip flops in the shower and having to check twice before you sat on that toilet seat. A recent study has indicated that there is one more thing our children should look out for: fecal contamination on their toothbrush.
Disgusting, Yet True
Lauren Aber, a graduate student at Quinnipac University, added that “the main concern is not with the presence of your own fecal matter on your toothbrush, but rather when a toothbrush is contaminated with fecal matter from someone else, which contains bacteria, viruses or parasites that are not part of your normal flora.” “Flora” — what a pretty-sounding euphemism.
It is also important to realize that this contamination occurs even if you keep your toothbrush in a cover because it “[keeps] the bristles moist and does not allow the head of the toothbrush to dry out between uses.” Your best bet is to store the toothbrush outside of the bathroom (like in your dorm room) and only take it in there to brush your teeth.
Maintaining a Clean Brush
Hopefully before you send your kids off to college, they know a little about maintaining their toothbrushes, but studies show they can use a reminder. If they are heading out the door to Dominican, Nyack College, NYU, Columbia, or Cornell, you might want to text them some tips from the ADA on toothbrush maintenance:
- Do not share toothbrushes!
- Rinse toothbrushes thoroughly after brushing.
- Do not leave toothbrushes in closed containers.
- Replace toothbrushes every three to four months.
- Soak toothbrushes in antibacterial mouthrinse to decrease SOME bacterial buildup.