Contamination of used toothbrushes and their decontamination with disinfecting agents


  • Tshakane RMD Ralephenya University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
  • Julitha Molepo University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
  • Mulalo Molaudzi University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
  • Alfred Volchansky University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
  • Sindisiwe L Shangase University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa



toothbrush, microorganisms, contamination, oral disinfectant agents


AIM: To evaluate microbial contamination of toothbrushes and the efficacy of different oral disinfectant agents in their decontamination METHODS: The heads of 98 used toothbrushes derived from patients who needed oral hygiene treatment were included in the study. In the laboratory, microorganisms on toothbrush heads were identified using standard microbiological methods. Toothbrush heads with microorganisms were then randomly divided into four groups of 19 and disinfected with Brushtox, Andolex C, Listerine® and water (control), followed by microbiological analysis RESULTS: Seventy eight percent of toothbrushes were contaminated with different microorganisms. Coagulase-negative staphylococci (CoNS) were found in a high number of toothbrushes (49%), followed by Pseudomonas spp (37%), Staphylococcus aureus (32%), Streptococcus mutans (14%), coliforms (9%) and Candida albicans (3%). Decontamination of toothbrushes with Andolex C and Listerine® reduced the number of contaminated toothbrushes by 74% each, Brushtox by 90% and water by 0.0% CONCLUSION: Toothbrushes were contaminated with various types of microorganisms, but predominantly with CoNS. Although Brushtox is a toothbrush spray, soaking toothbrushes in this solution was the most effective method, reducing the number of disinfected toothbrushes by 90%. Oral health practitioners should raise awareness to their patients regarding the need to disinfect toothbrushes.


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How to Cite

Ralephenya, T. R. ., Molepo, J. ., Molaudzi, M. ., Volchansky, A. ., & Shangase, S. L. . (2020). Contamination of used toothbrushes and their decontamination with disinfecting agents. South African Dental Journal, 75(9), 478–484.