People underrate danger of borrowing toothbrushes – Research

Spitting is the most disgusting habit, a new research has revealed. Some 35% of respondents placed spitting at the top of the list while 73% positioned it in the worst three.

Using somebody else’s toothbrush and not telling them was branded as the most disgusting habit by 25%, coming second in the poll, with nose picking in third (17%).

Flatulence (12%), bad language (7%), belching (2%), biting nails (2%) and thumb sucking (0.3%) made up the rest of the list.

The survey, which questioned more than 1,000 members of the public, was conducted by the British Dental Health Foundation ahead of National Smile Month, a campaign to improve the UK’s oral health in 2012.

In addition to using somebody else’s toothbrush and not telling them being the second biggest pet peeve with respondents, just under half (49%) found it nasty enough to rank it amongst their top three.

Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr. Nigel Carter said he was surprised the attitudes against borrowing toothbrushes were not higher, especially as it was one of few on the list which could cause illness and disease.

“Borrowing somebody else’s toothbrush leaves people susceptible to all sorts of oral and general health problems,” Dr. Carter said. “There are many hundreds of different bacteria and viruses in the mouth and people sharing a toothbrush could be passing these on to others. Whilst this might be something relatively harmless, such as a common cold or cold sore, if either person is infected with hepatitis B or HIV these could also be passed on via the toothbrush with life threatening consequences.”

Dr. Carter urged all to take good care of their toothbrush, and to change it once every three months. Above all, no one else should borrow it, he said.

“What people may not realise when looking through this list is how many of these bad habits could go on to affect their oral health,” Dr. Carter added. “Nail biting could result in chipped teeth, gum trauma and a reduction in the enamel. An acid reflux from belching could cause dental erosion while thumb sucking can affect the position of the teeth, misaligning the jaw bone over time, resulting in unpleasant and costly corrective treatment.

“Kicking bad habits can often not be easy but in this case they may be crucially important to achieving better oral and overall health.”

National Smile Month, which runs from 20th May to 20th June, is being supported by a record number of sponsors including Listerine, Wrigley and Oral-B.

It encourages everyone to follow three basic rules for great oral health throughout life: brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste; cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks; and visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.

Other ways to improve oral health include: cleaning between your teeth with interdental brushes or floss at least once a day; using a mouthwash as part of your regular oral health routine; chewing sugar-free gum in between meals to help protect your teeth throughout the day; and if you wear dentures, cleaning them twice a day.

National Smile Month is also promoting a water saving message in 2012. By visiting everyone can find out more about the campaign, including details on this year’s official symbol – the ‘Smiley’.