Most of us know that toothbrushes were simply not designed to last forever. This is evident when you look at a really old toothbrush and notice the frayed, worn-down bristles. However, the majority of people use their toothbrush for far beyond its recommended lifespan. Just how long is that, anyway? Keep reading as a dentist explains how often you should replace your toothbrush for optimal oral health.
How Often Should You Switch Out Your Toothbrush?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should replace your toothbrush (or your brush head, if you’re using an electric toothbrush) every 12 to 16 weeks, or three to four months. The CDC also suggests changing out your brush sooner than that if the bristles look to be worn out or frayed at the edges. If this is the case, the bristles won’t be nearly as effective at removing food debris and plaque from your teeth.
Are There Any Other Reasons to Replace Your Toothbrush?
If you or someone in your household has been sick, it’s not a bad idea to switch out your toothbrush as well as everyone else’s, just to be on the safe side. Viral or bacterial infections, such as strep throat or the common cold, are particularly dangerous, as they can remain on the bristles for a long time after you have recovered. Without changing out your toothbrush, those germs can re-infect you, getting you sick all over again.
How Can You Take Care of Your Toothbrush?
To reap the maximum amount of benefits out of your toothbrush, treat it as you would any other personal hygiene product. Don’t share your toothbrush with anyone else, not even your significant other. Doing so could spread germs from one person to another that aren’t spread through other activities like kissing.
Ideally, you should store your toothbrush in a toothbrush holder, not in a cover, drawer, or cabinet. Places like those can rapidly become a breeding ground for bacteria that cause infections. Make sure that everyone who uses your bathroom has their own toothbrush holder to minimize contact between them.
After you’re finished brushing, rinse off the bristles with warm water to help kill any leftover germs. Every week or so, you may want to thoroughly disinfect your toothbrush to prevent it from harboring germs (especially the coronavirus). To do so, you can let your brush soak in mouthwash, denture cleanser, or boiling hot water for a few minutes.
When it comes to stopping oral health problems like cavities and gum disease, your toothbrush is typically your first line of defense. To maintain your toothbrush and make sure it lasts as long as possible, use your own brush, and store it away from anyone else’s. Replace it every three months, or sooner if you’ve been sick or the bristles look worn down. If you have any further questions about taking care of your toothbrush, consult your dentist.
About the Practice
At Generations Dental Care, we prioritize the health of your smile over anything else. Whether you need help deciding on a toothbrush or are interested in beautifying your pearly whites, we can meet virtually every smile need you may have. To learn more about how to maintain your toothbrush, contact us at (603) 225-6331.