How often should you replace your toothbrush?

You know to regularly clear your refrigerator of expired foods, to toss health and beauty products that are past the suggested use date and keep an eye on the expiration date of prescriptions and other items in your medicine cabinet, but when was the last time you replaced your toothbrush?

While it’s true that toothbrushes don’t have a printed expiration date, both dentists and toothbrush manufacturers agree that you should switch out your toothbrush about every three months. And that’s not just because someone wants to sell more toothbrushes. Research shows that new toothbrushes remove plaque more effectively than a dental care tool that is worn and tattered.

You may need to replace your toothbrush even more often than every three months if you have been sick. Pesky viruses and stubborn germs can linger on toothbrushes and could cause you to get sick again.  And if your toothbrush shows extreme signs of wear or features splayed bristles, it’s definitely time for a replacement. Using an old and worn toothbrush can spread infection within the mouth and negatively impact your dental health and overall wellness. When bristles start to splay and lose their stiffness, this means your brush is losing its effectiveness. A manual toothbrush in this condition can no longer effectively clean teeth and gums.

A new manual toothbrush with soft yet firm bristles allows you to easily and effectively clean your teeth and gums and thoroughly care for tight spaces in your mouth.  Opt for a brush with soft bristles to sweep away food particles, scrub through plaque and remove debris. And electric toothbrush heads need to be replaced often, as well. Electric tooth brush heads feature shorter bristles than manual toothbrushes.  Electric toothbrushes are often touted for cleaning the mouth, teeth and gums more effectively, but the rotating and vibrating from such devices combines with the shorter bristles mean than those brush heads need to be replaced about every three months, too.

Household illness and obvious signs of wear are reasons to replace toothbrushes, of course, but it is especially important to keep an eye on the condition of children’s toothbrushes.  Little ones tend to smash bristles or chew on the brush head, particularly when children are first learning how to brush their teeth. This can cause premature wear that will impact the brush’s effectiveness.

No matter what style of toothbrush you prefer, dental care experts still recommend brushing teeth and gums twice per day for at least two minutes per session. At that rate, most toothbrushes – whether manual or electric – will show significant wear that effects function around the three month mark.  To extend the life of your toothbrush, rinse thoroughly after each use and store upright to allow for complete drying. Store toothbrushes away from toilet areas in an open air space such as in an upright holder on the countertop. Never store a toothbrush in an enclosed container. Always make a note on your calendar when you replace your toothbrush, and set a reminder for three months to help you remember when it’s time to make a switch the next time.

Proper toothbrush care and a regular brush replacement schedule are one of many ways you can ensure good oral health.  Proper brushing habits can prevent many dental health concerns including cavities. Taking good care of your teeth and gums prevents stressful emergency visits to the dentist and can help you avoid anxiety-inducing dental procedures.  Take the time to replace your toothbrush frequently to ensure good oral and overall health.  

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