Toothbrushes, Families, and the Flu

Members of families share all kinds of things; it is customary among family members to share a single toothbrush holder or cup where they all place their toothbrushes: this is a simple way of spreading germs with everybody in the group. In order to deal with this problem, you should take a few precaution measures, without having the preconception that not sharing some items related to your hygiene means isolating from the rest of the family.


  • Isolate your toothbrush irrespective of how healthy you are at the moment. It’s better to be safe than sorry. There’s no reason why you should risk making you or your family sick just for the sake of rejoicing from sharing a toothbrush holder with your loved ones.
  • Clean your toothbrush. People who do have small children sometimes own sterilization kits or similar devices that can also be used to periodically sterilize all the toothbrushes of the family. If you do not own such a device, feel free to use the microwave (30 seconds should do, but you need to check this with the toothbrush manufacturer, to make sure it’s safe).
  • Replace your toothbrush. After a serious flu, it is recommended to replace your toothbrush or your toothbrush head (if you use an electric device), to reduce the incidence of bacteria.

It may also not be a good idea to share the same toothpaste with the people you live with, for several reasons:

  • Different toothpastes address different dental issues. One tube may not be the best option for everyone in your family.
  • Children tend to use toothpaste incorrectly, leaving the tube dirty for prolonged periods of time. Messing things even more may thus prove counterintuitive.
  • Germs may be transferred from one member of the family to another if you’re sharing toothpaste.
  • Sharing the toothpastes limits the number of flavors you have access to.

Some scientists claim that even sharing the same tube of toothpaste may promote spreading germs and bacteria. Although this hypothesis is debated by others, one may take this fact into account, especially when someone in the family is known to have the flu or another contagious condition.

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