Should You Change Your Toothbrush After Being Sick? Strep Study Holds Answer

You may not have to toss your toothbrush after a sore throat after all, according to new research.

A study presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies showed that strep-causing bacteria did not grow on toothbrushes after kids with strep used them.

"This study supports that it is probably unnecessary to throw away your toothbrush after a diagnosis of strep throat," study researcher Dr. Judith L. Rowen, M.D., an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Medical Branch, said in a statement.

The study first included an experiment to see if group A Streptococcus (which causes strep throat) can grow on toothbrushes. Researchers found that the bacteria can indeed grow and stay on toothbrushes for two or more days.

Then, researchers had 14 people with strep throat, 13 people with sore throat that wasn't strep, and 26 healthy people who were all ages 2 to 20 brush their teeth for a minute with new toothbrushes. Researchers found that only one of the toothbrushes grew strep, and it wasn't even used by someone who actually had strep throat.

According to the American Dental Association, you should change your toothbrush anyway every three or four months. The ADA explains why:

The bristles become frayed and worn with use and cleaning effectiveness will decrease. Toothbrushes will wear out more rapidly depending on factors unique to each patient. Check brushes often for this type of wear and replace them more frequently if needed. Children's toothbrushes often need replacing more frequently than adult brushes.

For more teeth-brushing advice, click through the slideshow from our partner YouBeauty:


8 Bad Brushing Habits


8 Bad Brushing Habits

8 Bad Brushing Habits

8 Bad Brushing Habits

You Don't Brush For Long Enough

Most people don't spend nearly enough time brushing their teeth, notes prosthodontist Michael Lenchner. Most dentists recommend brushing for two or three minutes, but few people ever make it to that. Next time, check your watch see how long your routine takes.

Chances are, whether you're rushing to get to work or ready to collapse into bed, you're only brushing for a minute or so. To go the distance, bring an egg timer into the bathroom and set it for two or three minutes before you get started, or use an electric toothbrush (like Sonicare) with a two-minute timer.

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