As you brush your teeth day after day, you may notice that the bristles are losing their beauty. They may fray, bend, or become duller in color. Overbrushing can prematurely age your toothbrush, but even a person who is extremely conscientious about their oral health must replace their toothbrush somewhat frequently. The question is, “How often should you replace your toothbrush?”
Why You Need to Replace Your Toothbrush
Your toothbrush plays an extremely important role in your oral health. At least twice a day for two full minutes per session, you should be using this essential instrument to clean plaque off your teeth and gums. Not only does this (vitally necessary) frequent use cause the soft bristles to fray, but also they may begin to harbor potentially dangerous bacteria. In fact, some toothbrushes have been shown to carry fecal coliform bacteria, which can be released into the air when a toilet is flushed and then spread to other surfaces in the bathroom. According to the American Dental Association, these and other bacteria have not been shown to cause adverse health effects. Nevertheless, it’s quite disturbing to know these bacteria are traveling from the toilet to your toothbrush to your mouth. Yuck!
To keep your toothbrush in good condition and prevent the accumulation of bacteria, you should rinse your toothbrush thoroughly with water after each use to clean away lingering toothpaste and saliva. In addition, store your toothbrush in an upright position and allow it to air dry in an open space (ideally away from the toilet). All of this information also applies to electric toothbrushes with removable heads.
Although most people know they need to replace their toothbrush from time to time, many people aren’t doing it often enough. So how often should you replace your toothbrush?
How Often Should You Replace Your Toothbrush?
Generally, dentists recommend that you replace your toothbrush every three to four months. While that’s a good rule of thumb, keep in mind that this timeline will depend on how frequently you brush your teeth and how hard you brush. If the bristles of your toothbrush become frayed, matted, or bent sooner than three months, you will need to replace it sooner. (Note: Please don’t start brushing less frequently so that you can avoid replacing your toothbrush so often. Your oral health will undoubtedly suffer. If your bristles become frayed very quickly, however, you may need to start brushing more gently.)
Although there are many types of toothbrushes available, a replacement schedule of three to four months works well for most options. Even high-quality, top-of-the-line toothbrushes will get frayed bristles in that length of time, rendering them less effective.
If you keep a separate toothbrush for trips (vacations, work trips, etc.), remember to replace that toothbrush regularly as well. Since you aren’t using it as often, you can likely go about six months before switching it out for a new one. However, be sure that you allow it to dry fully before storing it in a travel toothbrush container to prevent it from becoming a breeding ground for bacteria. Clean the container after each trip as well.
Finally, you may wish to replace your toothbrush after you’ve had a cold, the flu, a mouth infection, a sore throat, or a bacterial or viral infection. Germs hiding in your toothbrush’s bristles can lead to reinfection or spread to your partner’s toothbrush.
Since dentists recommend replacing your toothbrush every three to four months, plan on buying about three to four toothbrushes per year. To save yourself hassle and ensure that you don’t forget, consider purchasing a pack of four toothbrushes at the start of the year so that you’re always ready to replace your toothbrush.
If you live near Springfield, Missouri, and you’re looking for a new dentist, contact Wilkinson Dental. Your comfort and oral health are our top priorities. When you’re ready to set up an appointment, please give us a call at 417-708-0556 or schedule one online. We look forward to hearing from you!