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What Happens When Toothbrushes Are Shared?

author image Julie Boehlke
Julie is an avid outdoor enthusiast who loves to camp with friends and family. Julie spends her free time writing, working on her novel and brewing up new recipes of wine—her newest hobby. She enjoys scouring junk shops and antique boutiques in search of rare finds and one of-a-kind treasures. She collects vintage dishes and antiquarian books. Julie spends her days being followed around aimlessly by her most adoring fan—Mushu the pug. She ventures out on weekends to the remote trails and deep north woods of Michigan. Julie also enjoys exploring out of the way nooks and crannies along the great lakes shoreline.
What Happens When Toothbrushes Are Shared?
Sharing a toothbrush can lead to health problems.

Forgetting your toothbrush during an overnight stay or accidentally swapping out the wrong brush can easily lead to sharing toothbrushes. Sharing a toothbrush causes an array of hygiene problems. A toothbrush harbors food particles that are naked to the human eye. These are left behind after you brush, allowing bacteria to form. Sharing toothbrushes is not a good idea, regardless if you practice good oral hygiene or not.

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Brush Breakdown

On average, you may use your toothbrush once or twice a day. If more than one person is using the same toothbrush it can begin to break down faster and cause problems in the mouth, explains the Dentistry website. The breakdown of bristles can scratch at your gums and promote receding gums that shift away from the teeth. It can also lead to bristles breaking off inside your mouth.


The Chicago Dental Society states that children who use each other’s toothbrushes are at a higher risk for developing infection which can lead to cavities and tooth decay. The reason for this is the high amount of bacteria and fungus that can be found on toothbrushes. If left untreated, it can result in tooth loss in your child that leads to impaired speech development and the inability to concentrate in school as mentioned by Georgetown University.


One pitfall when sharing your toothbrush is the amount of bacteria that can be found on it after each use, explains the Dental Resource website. One of the main bacteria culprits found on your toothbrush could be beta-hemolytic streptococcus, a bacteria that causes strep throat. This can cause you to get extremely sick and suffer from symptoms such as a sore throat, fever, cough, swollen lymph nodes and difficulty in swallowing. Mutant strains of streptococcus cause dental cavities. This type of bacteria is commonly found on toothbrushes that contain food and residue.

Life of a Toothbrush

According to the Library of Congress, the first modern toothbrush with nylon bristles was not invented until 1938. According to the Dentistry website, the average toothbrush should only be used three months at a time. After that, the toothbrush should be discarded.

Sanitary Brush

There are ways to sanitize your toothbrush to kill germs and bacteria, according to the Mom's Budget website. This is a temporary solution until you can buy new toothbrushes. One way is to clean your toothbrush with a bleach solution. Mix 1 cup water and 2 tbsp. of bleach, place your toothbrush bristle side down into the solution and allow to soak overnight. Make sure to rinse thoroughly with warm water before reusing.

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