Microbial contamination of toothbrushes with different principles of filament anchoring

J Am Dent Assoc. 2005 Jun;136(6):758-65; quiz 806. doi: 10.14219/jada.archive.2005.0259.


Background: The retention and growth of cariogenic microorganisms on toothbrushes pose a threat of recontamination. The authors to studied three species of oral microorganisms found at different places on toothbrush filaments.

Methods: The authors tested on patients 30 toothbrushes each of three different toothbrush types made by a single manufacturer. The toothbrushes were divided into three groups by type of construction: staple-set tufting (toothbrush A); in-mold tufting (toothbrush B); individual in-mold placement of filaments (toothbrush C). Subjects used the toothbrushes once under standardized conditions; the authors subsequently examined the brushes for the presence of Streptococcus mutans, lactobacilli and Candida species. The inspection was carried out at three time intervals after use.

Results: S. mutans was retained to the highest degree, followed by lactobacilli and finally by C. albicans. The authors found that the number of microorganisms on toothbrush types A and B did not reveal a significant difference either on examination immediately after use or after the toothbrushes had been dried for two hours or eight hours. The technique of individual in-mold placement of filaments made retention of microorganisms more difficult. The difference between the number of germs retained on toothbrush types A and C, as well as that between the number of germs retained on types B and C, was significant or even highly significant.

Conclusions: The results show that toothbrushes made with the technique of individual in-mold placement of filaments appear to retain the least amount of microbial material.

Clinical implications: Owing to the fact that toothbrushes always are a possible source of microbial reinfection, the arrangement of the filaments within the head of the toothbrush is of great importance with regard to hygiene.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Bacterial Adhesion
  • Candida albicans / isolation & purification
  • Child
  • Dental Devices, Home Care / microbiology*
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Lactobacillus / isolation & purification
  • Streptococcus mutans / isolation & purification
  • Toothbrushing / instrumentation*