Disinfecting Toothbrushes May Slow Coronavirus Spread

January 28, 2021 Topic: Health Region: Americas Blog Brand: Coronavirus Tags: CoronavirusPandemicSymptomsVaccineToothbrush

Disinfecting Toothbrushes May Slow Coronavirus Spread

There seems to be a great risk for families leaving their toothbrushes in the same container.   

Disinfecting your toothbrush often has been shown to neutralize the novel coronavirus and slow its spread, according to a new study out of Brazil that was published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.  

For the study, the researchers were able to show how non-disinfected toothbrushes could enable the spread of the coronavirus, adding that they “act as reservoirs for microorganisms, favoring the transmission of diseases in heathy and sick individuals.”  

Throughout the yearlong pandemic, health professionals have long known that high viral loads of the coronavirus—even in asymptomatic individuals—can be found in the saliva, nasopharynx, and oropharynx.

“Thus, disinfection of toothbrushes and hygiene of the oral cavity are important to control the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, especially in asymptomatic individuals or in those who await the test result for COVID-19,” the study’s authors wrote.  

Dr. Nigel Carter, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation, noted that oral hygiene habits like sharing toothbrushes are linked to disease transmission and should be discouraged. 

“There are many hundreds of different bacteria and viruses in our mouths and those sharing a toothbrush could be passing these on to others,” Carter said in a news release.  

“While this might be something relatively harmless, such as a common cold or cold sore, if the person you are sharing with is infected with viruses like hepatitis B and now coronavirus, these could also be passed on via the toothbrush, with severe health consequences.” 

There also seems to be a greater risk for families leaving their toothbrushes in the same container.   

“Storing toothbrushes in the same container has always been a bad idea, but today this separation has become a real necessity,” Carter said. “This is especially important if a person has the virus without the symptoms, as they could be unknowingly spreading the virus to loved ones.”  

In another recent study, mouthwashes that can be purchased at a local drugstore have been shown to be able to kill the coronavirus human saliva within thirty seconds, according to researchers at Cardiff University in Wales.

The team was able to test the virus-eliminating effectiveness of a handful of different mouthwashes containing ethanol/essential oils, cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC), and povidone-iodine (PVP-I)—and eventually discovered that three of the tested mouthwashes neutralized the virus completely.  

Of these three particular products, two contained at least 0.07 percent CPC and the third contained 23 percent ethanol with ethyl lauroyl arginate (LAE). 

“This study adds to the emerging literature that several commonly-available mouthwashes designed to fight gum disease can also inactivate the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (and other related coronaviruses) when tested in the laboratory under conditions that are designed to mimic the oral/nasal cavity in a test tube,” Dr. Richard Stanton, the lead author of the study, said in a statement.  

“People should continue to follow the preventive measures issued by the U.K. government, including washing hands frequently and maintaining social distance,” Stanton cautioned.  

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.  

Image: Reuters