I know this Go Daddy ad sparked quite a lot of controversy after Sunday’s Super Bowl. Many were uncomfortable about the “geek” kissing the beautiful woman. Some were wondering about the appropriateness of that intimacy of affection during prime time. Frankly, as a dentist, some other thoughts also ran through my mind. So, with St. Valentine’s day coming up next week, now would be an appropriate time to share these thoughts with you.
Did you know that bacteria can be passed between two people by mouth to mouth contact? The same goes with sharing your toothbrush. What about sharing that appetizer? Maybe a little smooching on the couch? Bacteria can be passed between people not just through toothbrushes or other dental implements, but also from shared silverware or any other mouth-to-mouth contact. Parents and children are not immune either, and bacteria can be passed between them. The family pet may even serve as the source of a bacterial infection.Did you know that the bacteria that causes juvenile periodontitis can be transferred from the infected site to an uninfected site within the same mouth? Even between a husband and wife, there can be bacterial transfer.
Recurring dental infections are commonly caused by infected toothbrushes. In addition to dental problems, a toothbrush may also result in the formation of a bacteremia (bacterial infection in the bloodstream) which, if left untreated, can lead to endocarditis (infection of the heart). A typical toothbrush may be infested with various viruses and bacteria, which can then be transmitted to a new user.
For example, if the toothbrush owner has the herpes simplex virus, 50% of the virus can remain on the toothbrush for up to a week. If you suffer from gum inflammation (gingivitis), you may be able to find relief by using a new toothbrush every two weeks. Wondering if it’s still okay to share a toothbrush with someone you trust?
We now understand that oral infections are not restricted to the mouth but can move through the body and be transmitted that way to other people. You don’t need to become obsessive about your toothbrush, and you can still share a sample at your favorite restaurant, but for your own well-being and that of your family, you should develop a good dental health program.
You can remove 100% of the bacteria on your toothbrush by soaking in an essential oils mouthrinse for 20 minutes. Another good way to clean your toothbrush is ultraviolet light. You may have seen a toothpaste that contains triclosan, a common disinfectant, that claims to clean your toothbrush; however, recent studies* show that this toothpaste is not very effective at removing bacteria.
What are the best ways to eliminate the bacteria that are on your toothbrush? Place them under ultraviolet light, soak them in a mouthrinse with essential oils, or, perhaps easiest of all, replace your old toothbrush with a fresh new one on a routine basis. There’s not much you can do about the kissing since most people won’t want to give that up…just keep an eye on the health of your mate’s mouth!
Have a happy Valentine’s Day!