Why does this dentist recommend families share a toothbrush?

Science and Health

There are those who share clothes with family members, and most of us have no problem sharing food. However, a British dentist now also recommends that families share a toothbrush – and here we have already crossed a red line (although it turns out not for everyone).

Jess Potter, a dentist who starred in the British version of the reality show Married at First Sight, turned to TikTok to explain why we should all share a toothbrush with the rest of the household.

“Do you know you can share a toothbrush to save money?” said Potter at the beginning of the video, which has already reached hundreds of thousands of views on TikTok. She explained that this is a tip she shares with many of her patients – and some have also agreed and have even adopted the idea.

Let’s start with an important clarification: Sharing a toothbrush can cause a wide variety of health problems. Whether it’s on purpose or accidentally, using someone else’s toothbrush (or letting them use yours) can expose your teeth, gums, and mouth to many nasty things that can lead to disease and infection.

These are the main reasons why you should never share a toothbrush

  • Toothbrushes contain a wide variety of bacteria, which can be passed on when people share a toothbrush. Streptococcus mutans, a harmful bacteria that is responsible for infections and the main cause of tooth decay, can be found on toothbrushes, and it can cause serious disease. Worse, when you share a toothbrush, the amount of bacteria on it increases with each use, and you are more likely to get an infection.
  • Toothbrushes not only transmit bacteria but also blood-borne diseases. This happens because when some people brush their teeth, their gums bleed. This means that any bacteria or virus in the mouth – transferred from the toothbrush – can enter the bloodstream. It can cause some minor infections and illnesses, but if the person you’re sharing the toothbrush with has hepatitis B or is HIV positive, they can also get it through using a toothbrush when the gums are bleeding.
  • Gum disease is one of the most common oral infections and can be treated when detected early enough. Unfortunately, it’s easily spread through sharing toothbrushes, and many people don’t realize they have it until it’s too late. When gingivitis is not treated it can lead to some serious health problems including tooth loss, painful abscesses and receding gums.
  • You risk several infections when you choose to put someone else’s toothbrush in your mouth. Viruses, including herpes simplex type 1, which is just one example of a disease spread by a toothbrush. Herpes simplex type 1 is the virus that causes herpes on the lips and genitals. The human papilloma virus (HPV) may also be transmitted by sharing a toothbrush and cause oral and esophageal cancer.
  • Food particles often remain trapped in the bristles of the brush, even if you cannot see them. This means that when you use someone else’s toothbrush, you expose the inside of your mouth to whatever they ate before they last brushed. Not only is it unhygienic, but trapped food particles are also a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.

In conclusion, it is never wise to share toothbrushes. If you find you’ve accidentally used someone else’s toothbrush, don’t panic – rinse your mouth with mouthwash (or plain water if you don’t have mouthwash) to get rid of any bacteria you may have picked up. If you feel unwell or have unusual symptoms after using someone else’s toothbrush, contact your doctor and let them know.

So why does she still recommend sharing brushes?

@jesspotter_xx SHARING A TOOTHBRUSH IN 2023 IS FINE!!! #dentalhygienist #dentalhygiene #dentistry #dentaladvice #dentalhealth #oralhealth #oralhygiene #electrictoothbrush #oralb #dentaltips #dentaladvice #moneysaving #fy #fyp #foryou #foryoupage #viral ♬ original sound – Jessica Anne

We’ll calm down and point out that the dentist offers this dubious tip only for those who use an electric toothbrush! That’s where the savings lie.

“I always recommend using an electric toothbrush, but I know that right now with everything that is happening financially – you need to save money,” said the dentist. Potter advised sharing one electric toothbrush with the members of the household: “You can buy one handle and several heads. Each of you will get a different head and just switch between them.”

“I’ve had many conversations with patients over the years who can’t afford multiple brushes,” Potter said. “They just can’t afford it. So I thought this would be an awesome way to ‘share a toothbrush’ without actually doing it.” Many patients liked this idea and even one of my patients said he did.”

Potter also suggested not to buy the most expensive electric toothbrush heads, as you can find cheaper and equally effective ones at any drugstore. “I also always say that any electric toothbrush purchased should not be full price, as you can always find it at half price somewhere,” she added.

Although we were a little relieved by the explanation that it was an electric toothbrush and only referring to changing heads, there are still quite a few who were horrified by the idea.

“Absolutely not. My OCD would not have allowed this to happen,” one commenter wrote, while another added, “It’s a recipe for mistakes. It’s enough that one morning you forgot to change the head or you changed the wrong head and you’re full of bacteria from another household member.”

In contrast, there were also some who liked the idea.

“The truth is I already do it. I can’t afford to buy 4 electric toothbrushes, so we all have our own heads with a different color stripe on the bottom,” shared one user and another agreed. “My family has been doing it for 20 years, we do this at my house and I thought it was normal.”