An updated systematic review on toothbrush contamination: An overlooked oral health concern among general population

Shahrukh Ali Khan, Fakeha Azhar Syed, Taimur Khalid, Nudrat Farheen, Faizan Javed, Syed Murtaza Raza Kazmi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objectives: The present systematic review was conducted to give an overview of toothbrush contamination among the general population and the factors affecting toothbrush contamination with an evidence-based approach. Data/Sources: Medline (Pub Med), CINAHL Plus, Cochrane Library and Dentistry and Oral Health Sciences Source were searched for the results after applying the search strategy from January 2012 to May 2022, following inclusion and exclusion criteria. The data were collected using a self-made data collection form on study characteristics, population attributes and the main features, including the study's outcomes. The methodological quality of the included studies was independently evaluated based on the Joanna Briggs Institute's (JBI) critical appraisal checklist for cross-sectional studies and the Risk of Biasness Tool-1 (Rob-1) for randomized controlled trials (RCTs). A descriptive analysis of the included studies was done using SWiM guidelines. The impact of charcoal and non-charcoal brushes on toothbrush disinfection was quantitatively analysed using a forest plot. Study Selection: Of the 687 studies screened by title and abstract, 27 articles were selected for full-text evaluation using the EndNote reference program (Ver. X9.2). From these, 15 qualified and were included in the systematic review. Among the selected studies, eight were RCTs, six were cross-sectional studies, and the remaining one was an in vitro experimental study. Conclusions: The toothbrush becomes contaminated even after its first usage, and the contamination level rises with continued use. There are a number of factors that lead to the contamination of brushes, such as increased humidity brought on by a plastic cover or a toilet setting. Charcoal brushes show significant efficacy as compared to regular bristles in reducing toothbrush contamination; however, more RCTs are needed to further assess its efficacy. Nevertheless, rinsing with chlorhexidine mouthwash after daily brushing shows favourable results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-105
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Dental Hygiene
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


  • Streptococcus mutans
  • bacterial count
  • charcoal brushes
  • oral hygiene
  • toothbrush
  • toothbrushing


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