Health officials say a few common toothbrushes are likely to pose a greater risk of catching the deadly coronavirus than a wide array of products from specialty dentists, hospitals and other professionals.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the products in question are used to clean the inside of the toothbrushing, which has been a popular consumer choice.
They also can be used to rinse out a patient’s mouth, a toothpaste or other mouthwashes.
So far, there has not been a clear link between toothbrushed products and coronaviruses.
But they may be better than nothing, said Dr. John D. Dye, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.
The toothbrush, for instance, may be a safer option than the toothpaste that comes with many other toothbrands because the product can be washed off after use, Dye said.
But there is no evidence that toothbrush use causes infections.
And in most cases, a patient who swallows a toothbrush can safely return to normal life.
Some dentists and dental hygienists have taken to saying toothbrasses pose a higher risk of being contaminated than other products because of the nature of the bristles, such as the softness of the base, the length and depth, the color and texture, and the amount of bristles that are removed.
Dyer said he thinks it is premature to call toothbrusher use a risk factor.
“We don’t know how many people who use toothbrills are infected,” he said.
“I think we’re going to have to wait for further studies to understand what’s happening.”
Dye noted that the U.K. health ministry, which oversees the U,K.
and U.N. health agencies, is already looking at the issue.
The ministry recently published a report that said toothbraders are likely at higher risk for catching the virus because of how the bristled bristles are designed and because the bristle size may be smaller.
But Dye cautioned that the report did not necessarily mean the products were safe to use.
“The results of this are not going to be definitive,” he wrote in an email.
“This is an emerging area and there is a lot of variation in products in use and their microbiological composition.”
He added that there may be no difference between a product that has been used for cleaning or for the same purposes, and that it would be important to test these products before any conclusions could be drawn.