No, Seriously – Dentists Really Don't Want You Sharing Toothbrushes

A close up of a woman passing a man his toothbrush in their bathroom.
A close up of a woman passing a man his toothbrush in their bathroom.

A close up of a woman passing a man his toothbrush in their bathroom.

Have you ever stayed over at a partner or friend’s house and resorted to using their toothbrush because you forgot your own?

We’ve all been there and while sharing toothbrushes is much more common than you might think, it can be pretty detrimental to your oral and overall health and hygiene.

Payal Bhalla, Lead Dentist and Clinical Director of Quest Dental has issued us a serious warning about why you should never share a toothbrush with someone else, (even when you’re desperate.)

The dentist tells HuffPost UK: “You should never share a toothbrush because it can lead to the transfer of bacteria and germs between people. When you brush your teeth, you remove plaque, food particles, and other debris from your mouth.”

However, no matter how hard you rinse your brush, Bhalla warns that some of these particles can remain on the bristles of the toothbrush.

So if you use someone else’s toothbrush (or vice versa), you’re effectively putting their oral bacteria into your mouth, including harmful germs that can cause dental decay, gum disease, and other oral infections.


“Additionally, if one of you has a cold, flu, or other contagious illness, sharing a toothbrush can spread the germs and increase the risk of infection,” Bhalla adds.

And buckle up, as the pro has shared some of the bacterial infections that can be transmitted via toothbrush sharing:

  • Streptococcus mutans: This bacteria is the primary cause of dental caries (tooth decay). Sharing a toothbrush can transfer this bacteria from one person to another, increasing the risk of cavities.

  • Porphyromonas gingivalis: This bacteria is associated with gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss if left untreated. Sharing a toothbrush can increase the risk of transmitting this bacteria and worsening gum disease.

  • Staphylococcus aureus: This bacteria can cause skin infections, such as boils and impetigo. If someone with a skin infection uses a toothbrush and then someone else uses the same toothbrush, they could potentially be exposed to this bacteria.

  • Herpes simplex virus: This virus can cause cold sores or fever blisters around the mouth. Sharing a toothbrush with someone who has an active cold sore can potentially transmit the virus to another person.

The bottom line? Sharing a toothbrush is unhygienic and can compromise your oral health.

According to Bhalla, you should also ensure that you are regularly replacing your toothbrush, as the bristles can be open to collecting numerous germs and bacteria if it is doing a lot of travelling around and being left out on dirty surfaces and open to airborne bacteria.

It is recommended that you replace your toothbrush every three to four months or sooner if the bristles become frayed or worn.

Excuse us while we throw ours in the bin immediately.