How Often Should You Replace Your Toothbrush?
How Often Should You Replace Your Toothbrush? The answer to this debate usually depends on who you talk to. The normal assumption is that you should be replacing your toothbrush at least every three months. Toothbrush manufacturers might say every 30 days. But what is the real deal? Is there a “right” answer to this question?
What Toothbrush Manufacturers Say
Most manufacturers recommend changing your toothbrush every three months. While many people may think this is merely to sell more toothbrushes, it is actually based on a variety of good reasons. While exploring this question, we discovered the following reasons for this recommendation:
- Bristles become frayed and worn
- Prevents bacteria from developing
- Brushing is less effective
- New brushes remove more plaque
Manufacturers of electric toothbrushes offer subscription services through distributors. This service sends members a new electric toothbrush head automatically. By using a service, there is no problem trying to remember how long you’ve been using your brush. You simply change to the new head when it arrives in the mail.
Some toothbrush manufacturers have employed “reminder bristles” in their designs. These special bristles are brightly colored when you buy your new toothbrush. As you use the brush, the color fades. Once the color is gone or significantly faded, it is time to change your brush.
What the American Dental Association Says
Both the American Dental Association (ADA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have guidelines for toothbrushes. The general recommendation is to replace your brush every three to four months. While that is almost the same as the manufacturer’s recommendation, there are additional reasons recommended by both organizations.
In addition to regularly changing your toothbrush, you should also replace it under these conditions:
- When anyone in your household has been sick, especially bacterial infections such as strep throat
- For children who sometimes chew on or mash the heads of their toothbrushes
- If anyone else uses your toothbrush
- If you drop it on the floor or any other surface
The general rule should be — When in doubt, change it out.
General Care of Your Toothbrush
Your toothbrush can be a collector of all things icky. By developing a few simple habits, you can prevent many issues that can result in bacteria growth.
Don’t share toothbrushes. Even if rinsed well, brushes can have germs.
Rinse your brush thoroughly after use. Make sure you rinse all toothpaste residue from between bristles.
Store your toothbrush upright to air dry. Don’t allow toothbrushes to rest against one another.
Don’t use any of these to “deep clean” your toothbrush — Dishwasher, microwave, ultraviolet devices, disinfecting solutions, or mouthwash. These may damage your brush resulting in less effective brushing.
Avoid covering toothbrushes. If you use a travel container, your toothbrush should be allowed to dry before packing. If you must pack it damp, remove it and rinse it upon arrival at your destination.
Whether you have Invisalign, traditional braces, or no braces, maintaining a clean and healthy smile is important. Part of ensuring that is taking care of your toothbrush and switching it out regularly.
So… How Often Should You Replace Your Toothbrush?
At Pitner Orthodontics, we recommend that you replace your toothbrush every three months. We would also stress that replacing it after an illness is important to remove the risk of re-infecting yourself. Whether you use a manual toothbrush, an electric, or a battery-powered brush, changing it more often is the best practice.