The simple answer is yes, but you probably want to know why. After all, what’s so bad about people sharing a toothbrush now and again? Sure, it’s kind of gross, but if you’re intimate with someone, you already share all kinds of germs via kissing, holding hands, sharing food off your plates, and engaging in other romantic activities. What’s the big deal about sharing a toothbrush?
The problem, in essence, is that there’s no barrier against germs when you decide to share a toothbrush. For other activities you can employ a level of protection. You can avoid kissing when your partner has a cold. You can wash your hands frequently. When you use another person’s toothbrush, however, all of their mouth bacteria are now your bacteria.
So what? What’s so wrong about swapping a little spit? Here’s what you need to know about the possible dangers of sharing a toothbrush.
Sharing Harmful Bacteria
Forget about the fact that you can get colds, flus, and strep throat from sharing a toothbrush – this can happen from sharing air in an enclosed space. What about bacteria that are found in the mouth, though? Even kissing might not transfer bacteria if you both keep your mouths relatively clean.
However, the bacteria in a person’s mouth can definitely cling to the bristles of a toothbrush and be transferred to another mouth. Consider for a moment that bacteria are responsible for oral health issues like tooth decay and periodontal diseases. The causative bacteria are fairly contagious, and if one person using a toothbrush has them, the other person using the toothbrush is going to get them.
You probably never thought you could get a cavity or periodontitis from sharing a toothbrush, but it could happen. This is just one good reason to spend a couple bucks to get your own toothbrush to leave at your partner’s place, or at least pack a travel toothbrush in your purse or pocket.
Even if you maintain good oral health, it’s possible to brush too hard and cause bleeding, especially when working with an unfamiliar toothbrush. When blood is involved, there’s a possibility that bloodborne pathogens can be transmitted, including diseases like hepatitis or HIV.
This isn’t to say that you’re definitely going to catch something from sharing a toothbrush, but it is a possibility, and one that you can easily avoid simply by using your own toothbrush. If you just can’t go without brushing, plan ahead and make sure you have your own toothbrush handy for such scenarios.