After experiencing a sore throat, you may think you have to throw away your toothbrush to protect your dental health. That makes sense- sore throats may be caused by infectious bacteria, and you're likely concerned that this bacteria may be on your toothbrush. However, if you have an electric toothbrush, then you probably don't relish the thought of having to purchase a new head for it before you need to.
Recently, researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch found that, at least when it comes to your kids, you may not have to throw out that toothbrush after all after they've had a case of strep throat.
Your Brush is Safe
The scientists wanted to see if the bacteria strain that causes strep throat, Streptococcus, also known as GAS, would grow on the toothbrushes of kids who had strep throat. They examined 14 kids who had strep throat, 13 of whom had sore throats but not strep, and 27 patients who weren't sick. They told all of them to brush their teeth with a new brush, then sent these brushes to the lab to see if GAS bacteria grew on them.
GAS bacteria was only found on one of the toothbrushes, which was, strangely enough, used by a kid who didn't have strep. The other brushes simply grew bacteria that are commonly present in the mouth, but did not grow GAS.
"This study supports that it is probably unnecessary to throw away your toothbrush after a diagnosis of strep throat," said co-author Judith Rowen, M.D., Associate Professor of Pediatrics in the Department of Pediatrics at UTMB.
However, Lauren Shepard, D.O., a co-author of the study, pointed out that this was a small study and larger ones need to be conducted before they can definitively say that it is safe for kids to use their toothbrushes after they have strep throat.
If your children have strep throat, you should take them to the doctor for the medication they need. Other than that, there are home remedies that may help ease the pain for strep. For example, drinking plenty of fluids while you have strep. Warm, herbal tea may provide immediate relief for a sore throat, as can a simple cup of hot water with honey.
Although this evidence indicates no need to change toothbrushes after having strep, Dr. Clark recommends to replace your toothbrush after having been on the antibiotic for a few days.
Here are the ADA guidelines:
Feel free to give us a call if you have any questions about replacing your toothbrush. We carry a great toothbrush in our office as well if you are ready to upgrade what you are currently using.
New electronic toothbrushes
can make great gifts!