Oral Hygiene Habits and Possible Transmission of COVID-19 Among Cohabitants

Maria Jose Gonzalez-Olmo; Bendicion Delgado-Ramos; Ana Ruiz-Guillen; Martin Romero-Maroto; Maria Carrillo-Diaz


BMC Oral Health. 2020;20(286) 

In This Article


In this study, we explored the role played by the correct use of anti-contamination measures in the dental environment to prevent infection among people living in the same house. The results have highlighted this association, considering that sharing a toothbrush, toothpaste, the same container for the brush, closing the toilet lid before flushing and changing the brush after the viral process could be a possible route of cross-contamination of COVID-19. However, when studying oral hygiene habits, no significant differences were found between the groups except for tongue cleaning. This result can be interpreted to indicate the tongue as the main oral organ acting as a reservoir of COVID-19[5] and the importance of brushing to decrease the viral load of the individual carrier.

The study shows significant differences in the measures taken to avoid cross-contamination with respect to gender, with the figures being higher in women than men. This finding is consistent with previous results obtained in the literature regarding care and cleaning in the home, in which the leading role of women is emphasized. In addition, men seem to be more affected by COVID-19 than women,[7,20,21] so it is doubtful whether this could be due to less comprehensive compliance with prevention measures.

It is also important to recognize some limitations of this study. First, a more definitive method would have been to measure the aerosol and surface viability of SARS-CoV-2 on the different surfaces and toilet environment but it is not possible because of the impossibility to visit each home due to the lockdown situation. Second, it is a matter of convenience. However, the sample size is acceptable to show a first approximation of what could happen if adequate measures are not taken in the dental environment. A possible third limitation comes from the use of self-report measures, which may be affected by responses based on social desirability. Finally, only measures affecting the dental environment have been considered, so the results could be partially biased.

This research has some relevant implications for the possible spread of COVID-19. There is evidence that daily hygiene measures are a vital part of infection prevention, which is important in the prevention of transmission and acquisition. There is evidence that everyday hygiene measures are a vital part of infection prevention and are important in preventing the transmission and acquisition of infection. Adopting a specific hygiene approach in our homes and our daily life (e.g., workplaces, public transport, gyms, nursery schools and shopping centers), in situations in which there is usually no mandatory hygiene policy, offers a way to maximize protection against infections.

In order to minimize the risk of viral infection among cohabitants, the population should be informed of the measures in the dental environment that should be taken to reduce possible cross-contamination, including not sharing a toothbrush or the same toothpaste tube, not sharing the cup where the toothbrush is stored, closing the toilet lid before flushing, disinfecting the toothbrush after each use and changing the toothbrush after a viral process.

If effectively implemented, hygiene in the home and in daily life has the potential to reduce infection rates and antibiotic consumption, thus reducing the selective pressure for the development and further spread of resistance.[14] As noted in recent global efforts to contain the SARS-CoV-2 virus and slow the spread of COVID-19, hygiene practices, including hand washing, are the first line of defense to reduce the transmission of infection. It is also important to recognize that while hygiene measures and disinfection of toilets and oral equipment to prevent the spread of COVID-19, appear to be necessary to consider in preventing the spread of COVID-19, it is vitally important to comply with all general measures outlined at the global level in order to contain the spread.

Although there is evidence that hygiene in the dental environment is important to prevent transmission of COVID-19 colonization and infection, further research is needed to demonstrate the extent to which poor hygiene in the dental environment may contribute to the burden of infection and cross-contamination of COVID-19. In addition, it would be interesting to know the different effects depending on the number of people in the household.