According to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center at the Houston (UTHealth) School of Dentistry, hollow-head toothbrushes may retain up to 3,000 times more bacteria than solid-head power toothbrushes.
Donna Warren Morris, R.D.H., M.Ed,, the lead author and professor at the UTHealth School of Dentistry states that 9 out of 10 times, the solid-head toothbrush group had a lower microbial count than the two hollow-head toothbrush groups.
“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,” Morris said. “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 was conducted over a three week period in which participants were asked to brush twice a day with a randomly assigned power toothbrush. In order to keep the data consistent, participants used non-antimicrobial toothpaste and continued their regular flossing routine – they were however asked to refrain from using other dental products like mouthwash.
Unfortunately, the packaging on most power toothbrushes don’t state whether they use a hollow-head or solid-head design. Morris said that “the best way to identify a solid-head design is through the connection to the body of the power toothbrush. Naturally, there will be some space to connect the two parts but a significant portion will be solid, up to the bristles or brush head.”
Don’t freak out just yet, there is no current data or study that has determined that excess bacterial growth on toothbrushes can lead to other health issues, but Morris has stated that there are several microorganisms that have been linked to systemic diseases.
“There are studies that have linked Fusobacterium to colorectal cancer. Some of these other bacteria have been linked with cardiovascular disease,” Morris said. “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.”
If you are worried that your toothbrush could be gathering more bacteria than you’d like, feel free to stop by our Brooklyn Heights office and ask about our toothbrush recommendations, you can also take home our dental goody bag filled with a regular toothbrush, floss, toothpaste, and other little goodies!