How Often Do You Replace Your Toothbrush? If the answer is “yearly,” you need to read this. Although toothbrush manufacturers tell you to replace your toothbrush every three months, most people average three to four months.
Types of Toothbrushes
There are many different types of toothbrushes available. Fat handles, skinny handles, long handles, and short handles. Big heads, small heads, round, square, diamond-shaped, and rectangular heads. Electric or manual. Soft, medium, or hard bristles. Ergonomic handles and easy-grip handles for young children.
How do you choose the right one? Although your dentist may offer recommendations, selecting a toothbrush is a rather personal affair. Most dentists and orthodontists recommend a soft-bristled brush. The important thing is to find a style of toothbrush that you’re comfortable with and to use it.
Average Lifespan of a Manual Toothbrush
Although a toothbrush might last a year, the recommendation is to replace it every three to four months.
Some manufacturers have color-changing bristles that display when a toothbrush should be changed. If you are forgetful, these are a great option to maintain regular rotation of your brush. They are also great for children.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends replacing your toothbrush every three to four months. Additionally, they state that replacement should occur if the bristles become frayed or matted. The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) also uses the same timeline for the replacement of toothbrushes.
Both the ADA and CDC recommend earlier replacement are after suffering a sickness such as the flu, or a mouth infection such as strep throat. Bacteria can accumulate on your toothbrush and cause illnesses to recur or last longer.
Average Lifespan of an Electric or Sonic Toothbrush
Although an electric or sonic toothbrush may last from 3 to 5 years, the toothbrush head should still be replaced every three to four months.
In a multi-use household, where several members are using the base unit with their toothbrush heads, the lifespan of the equipment may decrease. The average is based on one user brushing two to three times daily.
Replace Your Toothbrush Head
Many companies offer subscription programs for replacement heads that are automatically mailed to your home. They are especially helpful in a household with several members. When the box arrives, everyone gets a new toothbrush head.
Some manufacturers recommend changing more frequently. This is generally to reduce plaque building up in the bristles. Electric toothbrushes also tend to fray more quickly than manual brushes. When a brush head becomes damaged, it loses efficiency and can lead to problems with your teeth and gums.
Why it is Important to Replace Your Toothbrush
Although replacing your toothbrush because of a worn head is the most common reason, there are many others.
The older a toothbrush is the less effective it is for cleaning your teeth. This includes individual brush heads for electric or sonic toothbrushes.
As bristles become older, they can collect fungal growth and bacteria. They don’t remove as much plaque, which means teeth don’t get as clean. A less effective tooth cleaning can lead to bad breath (halitosis), dental problems, and gum disease. Frayed bristles may also contribute to bleeding gums.
To ensure that your brush is doing its best job keeping your teeth and mouth clean, it should be replaced every three to months.
How to Care for Your Toothbrush
We all seem to have different habits when it comes to taking care of our toothbrushes. With all the different choices in brush style, shape, and size, those old mounted holders are often not useful.
Some people have a decorative cup (guilty) on the counter to keep brushes upright. Some people lay their brushes on the counter or on a small cloth to dry. While you should still replace your toothbrush every three to four months, these tips will help keep your brush cleaner.
Don’t share. Every mouth has germs and they are not all equal. The act of rinsing does not remove germs that can then transfer to the next user. Sharing strep throat, thrush, or other common ailments is not a good way to experience “togetherness.”
Always rinse your toothbrush thoroughly after use. Store it upright and allow it to air dry. If you share a toothbrush holder, do not allow the brushes to touch one another.
Do not soak your toothbrush in mouthwash or other disinfecting solutions. Do not use a microwave, dishwasher, or an ultraviolet device to attempt to disinfect a toothbrush. These could damage your toothbrush or cause premature wear.
Avoid storing your toothbrush in a closed container, such as a travel cover or zippered baggie. While these products may be necessary for travel if used with a damp brush they could accelerate bacteria growth. If you do pack your brush damp, remove it as soon as you arrive and rinse it completely, then allow it to air dry.
Does Sanitizing Your Toothbrush Help?
Sanitizing units for toothbrushes are available although there is no documentation that they benefit our health in any way. If in use, the ADA does recommend using a unit that has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The reason for seeking a machine with FDA clearance is that you know the capabilities of the unit will be truthful. The FDA requires that manufacturers make only truthful claims.
So, with that in mind, spending money on a toothbrush sanitizing unit doesn’t make sense, especially if you are replacing your brush on a regular schedule.
Create a Schedule to Replace Your Toothbrush
Creating a schedule to replace your toothbrush is as simple as remembering to get a regular dental check-up. If you have braces or Invisalign, oral hygiene is even more important during your treatment period. Dr. Keith Koch and the entire staff at Koch Orthodontics are here if you have any questions.