Precaution is the key point in combating the raging second surge of Covid-19 pandemic. This is applicable for those who have recently recovered and also those who are yet to be infected by the Coronavirus.
In this context even small safeguards matter like changing of toothbrush and tongue cleaner immediately by the person who has recently recovered from Covid-19. This is advised by the dentists who state that this not only protects the person from chances of re-infection but can also protect those who use the same washroom.
Quoting Dr. Pravesh Mehra, HoD, Dental Surgery, Lady Hardinge Medical College in the Capital, an article in India Today said: "If you or anyone in your family and friend circle have contracted Covid-19, once recovered, please ensure to change your toothbrush, tongue cleaner etc. These can harbour the virus, and it is best they are discarded.”
Sounding this same precautions was also Dr Bhumika Madan, Consultant (Dental), Aakash Healthcare Super Speciality Hospital. In fact she said, she usually recommended changing toothbrushes and tongue cleaners to anyone who has recovered from seasonal flu, cough and cold.
She stated in the article that, "We are advising the same to Covid-19 patients too. If you have contracted Covid-19, you should change your toothbrush and tongue cleaner after 20 days of getting the first symptoms.”
She explained that this is because bacteria/virus build-up over time on toothbrush is known to cause upper respiratory tract infections.
Suggesting further steps to avoid the disease, Dr. Madan said: "As a prevention, we prescribe using mouthwash and betadine gargle that helps in reducing build-up of virus/bacteria in the mouth. If a mouthwash is not available, rinsing the mouth with warm saline water also works fine. Apart from this, one must maintain oral hygiene and brush twice a day.”
The Reasoning For The Caution
It is not without a valid reason that the importance of oral hygiene and changing toothbrush and tongue cleaner after recovering from Covid-19 is suggested. This can be appreciated once it is understood how the Covid-19 causing virus SARS-CoV-2, spreads.
The World Health Organisation states that the virus primarily spreads through tiny droplets that come out from an infected person's mouth when they cough, sneeze, shout, talk, laugh etc.
Besides, the infection can spread by touching surfaces that have been contaminated by the virus, and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth without cleaning their hands.
The virus has also been found to be airborne. Thus. once released from an infected person, it can stay in the air for some time and get transmitted. Crowded places and places with poor ventilation help in faster transmission.
Keeping this in mind, an infected person’s toothbrush and tongue cleaner are likely to have a significant concentration of the virus. If these are continued to be used, there is a chance of reinfection and infection to others.
In a house or family which has a Covid-19 infected person, it is vital not to retain the toiletry items like toothbrush, tongue cleaner etc of the household together as it increases chances of transmission.
It is further advised by the experts to Covid-19 patients to dry and disinfect their toothbrush and tongue cleaner for safety.
Study To Support This Advise
In January 2021, researchers in Brazil carried out a study to understand the impact of oral hygiene on Covid-19 transmission. It recommended that disinfecting toothbrushes should be part of oral hygiene as it would help in mitigating infections.
Published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, the study stressed that toothbrushes can "act as reservoirs for microorganisms" that can easily spread the disease from the infected person to others.