Let's Settle The Couples Sharing A Toothbrush Debate Once & For All
You and your boo share lots of things — pizza, bodily fluids (yeah, I said it) and perhaps even a bank account. So, is it OK if your partner borrows your toothbrush? For some, swapping spit during a passionate makeout is one thing, but scrubbing your chompers with the same tool is crossing the line from close to downright gross. Others, meanwhile, don’t see anything wrong with it. So, is it normal? And furthermore, are there any risks involved?
As it turns out, the toothbrush sharing issue is quite divisive. One Reddit poll titled “Is it OK for your SO to use your toothbrush?” inspired a wide range of responses, from “it’s NBD,” to “it’s “f*cking disgusting.” One user wrote, “Half the time we can't remember which toothbrush belongs to which person,” and another responded, “assuming you're giving each other head… what is the big deal if your SO uses your toothbrush?” But a different commenter wasn’t having it — they chimed in saying, “Toothbrushes are meant to clean off bacteria-laden plaque. That's not the same as any saliva that gets transmitted while kissing.”
There are a number of valid reasons why this common conundrum might come up, too. Your partner might forget to pack their toothbrush on your romantic getaway, or even accidentally use yours while they’re sleepily getting ready in the morning at your apartment. Maybe you had an impromptu sleepover, so they don’t have any of their own toiletries on hand.
According to Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking, it’s not totally abnormal for your SO to borrow your toothbrush (or vice versa) — once in a while, that is.
“Lots of couples do this, and I don't even think it's something they all talk about or feel the need to ask about," she tells Elite Daily.
It's also surprisingly super common, too. O2's Mobile Life study from 2016 revealed that millennials are actually more comfortable sharing their toothbrushes than they are letting other people use their smartphones. Our generation is weird, you guys.
That said, Trombetti stresses that there’s a big difference between borrowing it once in a great while due to an emergency situation, and sharing the same toothbrush all the time. Also, she says it’s crucial to consider your partner’s comfort zone. Are they the type who doesn’t think twice about eating a tortilla chip that fell on the floor (#ItMe)? Or, are they someone who continually re-applies hand sanitizer throughout the day, and opens doorknobs in public places with their sleeve? If the latter sounds familiar, then it goes without saying that you should probably think twice about grabbing their toothbrush.
“If you know your partner is a germaphobe, that would be breaking their trust — it’s a major violation," she explains.
But no matter how comfortable you and bae are with each other, there are actually health risks to take into account.
“While I am not a doctor or dentist, it stands to reason there is bacteria in the mouth that you are transferring,” adds Trombetti. “I wouldn't do it if they had the flu, or a cold.”
Obviously, it’s advisable to avoid sharing a toothbrush when one of you is sick, but the reality is, sometimes symptoms don’t set in until after someone’s already caught something — meaning you could pass it on without realizing it. According to Dr. Samantha Byrne from the Melbourne Dental School, there are over 700 different kinds of bacterial species that can reside in the mouth, and most individuals have about 200 at any given time.
Woof, I know. But here’s the thing: Dr. Byrne asserts that the majority of these bacterial are not only harmless, but may actually be beneficial. However, there are several species that are associated with gum disease and tooth decay that can be harmful. So, if you or your SO is coping with these issues, or you just want to be on the safe side, then it’s probably best not to share a toothbrush.
Dr. Ben Atkins, dentist and trustee of the Oral Health Foundation, also notes that brushing occasionally causes the gums to bleed, which could expose that person to other health problems, (like a cold sore, or more serious risks like HIV or Hepatitis B).
Here’s the thing, however. Dr. Matt Messina, the spokesperson for the American Dental Association, told Esquire that it’s not all that dangerous to share a toothbrush once in a while, due to the fact that our immune systems are pretty powerful when it comes to protecting us. Not only that, but he notes that if you and your boo live together or spend a significant amount of time at each other’s abodes, you gradually begin to share basically the same bacterial populations anyway.
If you opt to share your toothbrush but you want to play it safe, Detroit-based periodontist Dr. Joseph Nemeth, recommends that your partner uses antibacterial mouthwash ASAP afterward to minimize the risk of transferring harmful germs.
But if the idea of sharing a toothbrush still straight up skeeves you out — that’s OK, too. Experts agree that if you’re not cool with letting your SO use your toothbrush, you should speak up and let them know.
“You’re free to express your wishes,” says Trombetti, “And your partner should respect your boundary. It isn't a big deal.”
Pricilla Martinez, CEO of Regroop Online Life Coaching, adds that there’s no hard and fast rule on sharing a toothbrush — it really comes down to what feels right for you and your SO.
“Be upfront,” she says. “Let them know that you would rather not share certain things. If this is somehow an expression of intimacy for them, you probably to discuss other ways to feel connected and consider how you’re already expressing that connection.”
So, there you have it. Is it OK to let your boo use your toothbrush? If neither of you has a contagious illness or is dealing with any oral hygiene problems, then it’s probably fine once in a great while. But doing it on the reg isn’t the best idea, no matter how healthy you are or comfortable you are with each other. Some say sharing is caring, but there are exceptions to every rule, y’all — so, remember: don’t be shy about setting those boundaries.