Toothbrush Contamination by Bathroom Aerosols: Reality or Myth?

Charland, Sarah, Alyson Fryz, Sara Trombly, Heather VanOast, and Eric Krukonis

The purpose of this investigation is to improve the knowledge about bathroom aerosols that contaminate toothbrushes. A study done by Frazelle et al suggested that toothbrushes likely play a large role in disease transmission because they serve as a reservoir for bacteria. An in vitro bench top study was conducted testing a total of 50 toothbrushes stored in 5 different ways for a period of two weeks. Eluted bacteria from the toothbrushes were then plated onto blood agar plates and allowed to incubate for two days. There were a total of 31 different bacterial species identified. Twelve of these species were β hemolytic bacteria, which can be associated with virulence in human hosts. The data suggests that using a toothbrush cap is not an effective way to decrease bacterial load. In fact, the rinsed and capped toothbrushes were the most contaminated, perhaps provided an ideal growing environment.