Power Toothbrushes Can Harbor Surprising Number Of Bacteria

Donna Warren Morris, RDH, Med Professor, Dean's Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars Houston, TX 77054  MedicalResearch.com Interview with: 
Donna Warren Morris, RDH, Med
Professor, Dean’s Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars
Houston, TX 77054

Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?

Answer: Power toothbrushes can harbor microorganisms that have been shown to cause disease and infections. A solid-head design was found to have less growth of microorganisms than two others with hollow head designs.

Medical Research: Were any of the findings unexpected? 

Answer: Probably the most surprising was the amount of difference in bacterial growth that we found with the three brushes tested.  The solid head brush was drastically lower for the organisms tested.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report? 

Answer: We have known that manual toothbrushes harbor microorganisms that can cause infections for decades.  No one had looked at power toothbrush heads and compared a hollow design to a solid head design.  For an average healthy individual, this contamination is most likely not very serious to their health.  For an individual with a serious illness or a weak immune system, it could be a different story.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Answer: This was a pilot study of 30 individuals.  A larger study to validate these results is always recommended or a study comparing a solid head manual with a solid head power toothbrush would be interesting as well to see they are similar with regard to microbial contamination.


J Dent Hyg. 2014 Aug;88(4):237-42.

Microbial contamination of power toothbrushes: a comparison of solid-head versus hollow-head designs.

Morris DW, Goldschmidt M, Keene H, Cron SG.