According to research conducted at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, solid-head power toothbrushes retain less bacteria compared to hollow-head toothbrushes. Results of this study were published in an August issue of the Journal of Dental Hygiene.
The Dirty Truth
The research shows that up to three thousand times more bacteria grew on hollow-head toothbrushes, and that the microbial counts were lower in the solid-head toothbrush groups for nine out of ten comparisons during a three-week period. Those participating were asked to brush twice a day with a non-antimicrobial paste and one of the three various electric toothbrushes. Participants also abstained from using mouthwash and other dental products while the study was being conducted.
Donna Warren Morris, R.D.H., Ed., states that “Toothbrushes can transmit microorganisms that cause disease and infections. A solid-head design allows for less growth of bacteria, and bristles should be soft and made of nylon…. It is also important to disinfect and to let your toothbrush dry between uses. Some power toothbrushes now include an ultraviolet system, or you can soak the head in mouthwash for 20 minutes.”
The study tested the toothbrush heads for five different microorganism categories: mold and yeast, anaerobes and facultative microorganisms, oral streptococci and oral enterococci anaerobes, Porphyromonasgingivalis, and Fusobacterium species.
Morris stated that there hasn’t been a published study to suggest that bacterial growth on a toothbrush could lead to systemic health effects, but several microorganisms have been associated with systemic diseases.
She further states, “We do know and there are studies that have linked Fusobacterium to colorectal cancer. Some of these other bacteria have been linked with cardiovascular disease…. There is a high association with gum disease and cardiovascular disease. Researchers have been able to culture the same bacteria around the heart that causes gum disease. “
How to Avoid the Gross Factor
Reading that study kind of gives you the heebie-jeebies, doesn’t it? Keep in mind that countless studies have provided substantial evidence for the benefits of using a sonic or electric toothbrush, so you can easily avoid this icky dilemma by making sure that the toothbrush you are using does indeed have a solid head so that germs and bacteria won’t get trapped in it.