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    December 16, 2021
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YOUR TOOTHBRUSH REFLECTS YOU, NOT YOUR BATHROOM Good news: The bacteria living on your toothbrush reflect your mouth-not your bathroom. After studying microbial communities living on bristles from used toothbrushes, Northwestern University researchers found those communities matched microbes commonly found inside the mouth and on skin. This was true no matter where the toothbrushes had been stored, including shielded behind a closed medicine cabinet door or out in the open on the edge of a sink. The study's senior author, Erica Hartmann, was inspired to conduct the research after hearing concerns that flushing a toilet might generate a cloud of aerosol particles. She and her team affectionately called their study "Operation Pottymouth." "I'm not saying that you can't get toilet aerosols on your toothbrush when you flush the toilet," Hartmann said. "But, based on what we saw in our study, the overwhelming majority of microbes on your toothbrush probably came from your mouth." To obtain toothbrushes for the study, Hartmann's team launched the Toothbrush Microbiome Project, which asked people to mail in their used toothbrushes along with corresponding metadata. The team then extracted DNA from the bristles to examine the microbial communities found there. They compared these communities to those outlined by the Human Microbiome Project, an NIH initiative that identified and catalogued microbial flora from different areas of the human body. Presented as a service to the community by Dr. Barbara Webster 1121 Warren Ave., Suite 130, Downers Grove, IL 60515 630-663-0554 YOUR TOOTHBRUSH REFLECTS YOU, NOT YOUR BATHROOM Good news: The bacteria living on your toothbrush reflect your mouth-not your bathroom. After studying microbial communities living on bristles from used toothbrushes, Northwestern University researchers found those communities matched microbes commonly found inside the mouth and on skin. This was true no matter where the toothbrushes had been stored, including shielded behind a closed medicine cabinet door or out in the open on the edge of a sink. The study's senior author, Erica Hartmann, was inspired to conduct the research after hearing concerns that flushing a toilet might generate a cloud of aerosol particles. She and her team affectionately called their study "Operation Pottymouth." "I'm not saying that you can't get toilet aerosols on your toothbrush when you flush the toilet," Hartmann said. "But, based on what we saw in our study, the overwhelming majority of microbes on your toothbrush probably came from your mouth." To obtain toothbrushes for the study, Hartmann's team launched the Toothbrush Microbiome Project, which asked people to mail in their used toothbrushes along with corresponding metadata. The team then extracted DNA from the bristles to examine the microbial communities found there. They compared these communities to those outlined by the Human Microbiome Project, an NIH initiative that identified and catalogued microbial flora from different areas of the human body. Presented as a service to the community by Dr. Barbara Webster 1121 Warren Ave., Suite 130, Downers Grove, IL 60515 630-663-0554