THE DENTIST ADVISES
BERTRAND R. STUART, D.D.S.
Anyone at any time can be affected by a condition known as oral inflammatory disease. Regardless of the diagnosis, the lesions manifest clinically as an ulcer, a white patch, or a white spot somewhere in the mouth.Germs are always found to play an important role in the cause. Specific antibiotic/antifungal treatment is quite effective. But as soon as the therapy is discontinued, the disease reappears. Why is this so?
The first search for an intraoral germ reservoir was conducted nearly fifteen years ago. Studies were instituted on both the toothbrush and the denture to answer one basic question. Do the toothbrush and the denture become infected and then transmit this infection either to the oral cavity or throughout the body?
The first toothbrush study, published in 1996, found that toothbrushes from both healthy and oral-diseased persons had a substantial number of pathogenic and opportunistic germs. The micro-organisms were not only those that produced oral diseases, but also that produced respiratory, gastro-intestinal, cardiovascular (heart), and kidney diseases.
Alarmingly, the first study found that 80 percent of the toothbrushes from one manufacturer were contaminated by a bacteria before being used. This finding underscored that while toothbrushes may be packaged and sealed, germs can infect the toothbrush during manufacturing and be maintained until the person uses it. Remember, toothbrushes are not fabricated under sterile conditions and there is no law that requires such.
Recognising the importance of the findings, the researchers gave oral inflammatory disease patients new toothbrushes at each appointment and told them to discard the one they had been using. Further scrutiny demonstrated that herpes simplex virus could actually attach to toothbrushes in high enough numbers to produce an infection. The virus was especially concentrated in the defects (eg., porosities) and the sharp edges of the bristles.
The most important findings of this study was that toothbrushes kept in a moist environment, such as a bathroom, could retain approximately one half of the original innoculum of viruses for up to seven days. The design of the toothbrush also is applicable. The more bristles per tuff, and the more tuffs per brush, the more retention of viruses.
An examination of 59 patients with oral inflammatory disease revealed that 93 percent of them, all except four, noticed improvement of their oral condition with a decrease in symptoms after simply changing their toothbrushes. Twenty of the 59 patients (34 per cent) required no treatment other than changing their toothbrushes every two weeks. Forty-six of the 59 patients (78 percent) had no reappearances of symptoms after their initial therapy (toothbrush change with or without antibiotic treatment) for at least a year and a half.
Two-row clear or light coloured translucent toothbrushes appear to be the most biologically sound. Toothbrushes should be stored in the bedroom rather than in the bathroom simply because the bathroom is the most contaminated room in the house.
You could change your toothbrush at the beginning of an illness, when you first feel better and when you feel completely well. It has been well substantiated that not only could germs adhere to and reproduce on toothbrushes, but they could transmit both local and systemic diseases.
While it is best to change your toothbrush every three weeks, this may not be economically conceivable for many. Therefore, special attention should be paid to frequent decontamination of your toothbrush. Washing it thoroughly with soap and then making sure its stored quite dry is the easiest and most practical way to keep your toothbrush germ-free.
THE DENTIST ADVISES