As a cosmetic dentist in Sonora, Dr. Paul Berger remains committed to protecting patients’ health and appearance. By now, most patients should understand the risks associated with harmful oral bacteria that contribute to the development of gum disease and tooth decay. What might not be as well known, however, is the potential hidden dangers that can negatively impact your health. One such risk that’s been getting a lot of attention recently is whether a man’s beard serves as a breeding ground for bacteria.
Just last year, reports were released that claimed men’s beards could contain more bacteria than a toilet. But before you start shaving in a bacteria induced state of panic, let’s take a moment to review the evidence and examine where the stories linking a bacteria buildup to men’s beards first appeared.
How Clean Is Your Beard?
Like a similar controversy that claimed flossing actually does nothing to protect your oral health – a story that was picked up by news outlets in both the U.S. and UK -, reports of the amount of bacteria found in the average beard was not based on research published in a scientific or medical journal, but rather involved an Albuquerque TV news crew who swabbed a few beards as part of an informal report. The TV crew then had the swabs tested by a lab that found surprisingly high concentrations of bacteria.
It was only after the story went viral that commentators pointed out the very unscientific nature of the report. For example, the news crew did not bother to swab the faces of clean-shaven men to determine what types of bacteria may be commonly present. Bacteria can accumulate on a variety of surfaces, including skin, and by failing to establish a contrast an important data point was ignored: Do beards actually harbor more bacteria than a clean-shaven face?
A more exhaustive 2014 study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection actually found that beards don’t posses any type of health hazard. According to the study, researchers compared the bacterial colonization on the faces of over 400 male health care workers with beards and without. Researches found almost no difference between the two groups, but the study did find that some types of bacteria were more likely to develop on the faces of men without beards. If anything this study just goes to underscore the importance of practicing quality daily hygiene, whether bearded or not.
Oral Hygiene Remains Key
Should a beard prove to be a good breeding group for bacteria, it’s important that men thoroughly clean their beards. After all, the beard is located directly near the mouth, which could increase the risk of exposure to dangerous bacteria. Even if the risk is only minor, a little good hygiene can go a long way.