Bathrooms in college dormitories are a toothbrush's worst nightmare.
A new study conducted at Connecticut's Quinnipiac University found there is a frighteningly high chance toothbrushes used in communal bathrooms have traces of feces.
Researchers collected toothbrushes from students who share bathrooms with approximately nine people.
They discovered 54.85 percent of the toothbrushes contained fecal bacteria, even if they were provided covers.
There is also an 80 percent chance this bacteria did not even belong to the owner of the toothbrush.
Student researcher Lauren Aber said,
The main concern is not with the presence of your own fecal matter on your toothbrush. [It's] when a toothbrush is contaminated with fecal matter from someone else, which contains bacteria, viruses or parasites that are not part of your normal flora.
The bacteria found on the toothbrushes often enter the air when someone flushes the toilet.
Exposure to such microorganisms can cause diarrhea, rashes, ear infections and various other conditions.
The study showed toothbrushes regularly rinsed with cold or hot water were no less likely to contain traces of feces.
Furthermore, bacteria were even found on every single toothbrush rinsed with mouthwash on a constant basis.
Using a toothbrush cover doesn't protect a toothbrush from bacterial growth, but actually creates an environment where bacteria are better suited to grow by keeping the bristles moist and not allowing the head of the toothbrush to dry out between uses.
She urged students to utilize different storage methods for toothbrushes.