Your Toothbrush Isn’t Going to Last Forever!

Most of us know our toothbrushes aren’t going to last forever. But it can be hard to figure out when our beloved bristles are nearing the end of their natural lifespan and you need to replace your toothbrush. You may be surprised to find out that according to manufacturer guidelines and dentist recommendations, your toothbrush should be replaced every 3 to 4 months.

There are also cases when you might need to replace your toothbrush sooner. If you don’t replace a toothbrush or electronic toothbrush head when it needs to be, it can affect your dental health and spread infection.

Why Should You Replace Your Toothbrush?

We talk a lot about the importance of good oral health and that includes brushing, flossing, and seeing your dentist on the regular. Let’s take a deeper dive into brushing, more specifically, the tool you’re using to brush those pearly whites.

You might ask yourself,

“when’s the last time I changed out my toothbrush?”

We toss old food, donate clothes, replace beauty products, etc., but adding a change into your routine to replace your toothbrush will have a bigger affect than you might think.

Related Article from The ADA: 8 Bad Brushing Habits to Break in 2022

When Do You Need to Make the Change?

Your toothbrush is your first line of defense against the bacteria that cause gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath.

Straight bristles and a clean and easy-to-grip handle are best to navigate the smaller spaces in your mouth. A soft bristle brush will effectively remove old food and bacteria that can collect around the bases of your teeth.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), it’s recommended to replace your toothbrush (or brush head on an electric toothbrush) every three months – that’s right, toothbrushes have a shelf life of only three months. The longer you use a toothbrush, the less effective it is. Normal wear and tear from brushing break down the bristles and won’t remove plaque and bacteria very well.

Here’s a few other things to consider:

  • Germs build up in toothbrushes
  • If you or a member of your family has been sick, replace your toothbrush so you don’t risk reinfection for everyone in your household
  • Viral and bacterial infections such as strep throat are of particular concern and are a good reason to switch your old toothbrush for a new one.
  • Don’t forget to watch your child when they’re brushing their teeth to make sure they aren’t exposing their brush head to any other surface besides their teeth.
  • If anyone else uses your toothbrush by mistake, get rid of it. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and everyone’s mouth harbors different bacteria than yours.
  • Fungus and bacteria can develop – make sure to let your toothbrush dry completely after every brush and store upright and uncovered
  • If the bristles look frayed, fan out, or look dark, it’s definitely time to replace

Related Article: Gum Disease: How can I prevent it? How does it affect my body? 

Electric toothbrush heads clean the surface area of your teeth by quickly rotating or vibrating. These toothbrush heads still have nylon bristles that can wear after regular use. What’s more, those bristles are shorter, which means that they may fray more quickly.

Plan to change out the toothbrush head on your electronic toothbrush every 12 weeks, or even earlier. Watch for signs of wear and tear on the bristles to know when it’s time to say goodbye to a brush head.

How to Take Care of Your Toothbrush

To make the most out of your toothbrush, take care of it the way you would any personal grooming or hygiene tool.

Here are some simple tips:

  • Don’t share your toothbrush with someone else, even members of your immediate family.
  • If your toothbrush is stored in a cup or container with other toothbrushes, try not to let the heads touch each other.
  • After brushing, rinse your toothbrush completely with tap water.
  • You don’t need to use a disinfectant, mouthwash, or hot water to sanitize it. Trying to “sanitize” a toothbrush in this way can actually spread germs.
  • You also don’t need a special closed container to keep your toothbrush clean when it’s not in use. Some of these containers can encourage mold growth or spread bacteria.

The Risk of Not Replacing Your Toothbrush

Let’s say the risk of bacteria, mold, and fungus aren’t enough to make you replace your toothbrush, there are also numerous other risks to not replacing.

Gum Damage: Old toothbrushes don’t clean gums well, leading to a higher risk of gum disease, which, left untreated, can lead to infection and losing tooth altogether.

Getting Sick: You can actually get sick from overused toothbrushes. Your toothbrush can grow mold or even unwanted fecal particles (if near a toilet).

We know that you’ve been brushing your teeth longer than you can remember, but are you using the Proper Brushing Technique? Review your skills by watching this short video!

What to Consider When it’s Time to Replace Your Toothbrush

Feel free to ask us during your dental checkup if we have any recommendations for the best toothbrush for you. In the meantime, look for soft bristles, a head size that can touch one or two teeth at a time, and a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Also consider adding a mouthwash to your routine to further fight any bacteria and plaque, and don’t forget your favorite floss! You can also consider investing in an electric toothbrush or electric water flosser, which can improve oral health beyond regular toothbrush and floss.

Related Article: It’s Time for Your Dental Exam and Cleaning 

Make Brushing FUN for Your Kiddos!

Replacing their toothbrushes more often may make them take better care of their teeth. Colorful toothbrushes and ones with popular characters can get them to want to brush more often and for longer periods of time. Take them shopping to pick out the perfect one. Toothbrushes can also be birthday party favors, Halloween treats, and stocking stuffers. Make dental hygiene fun for your kiddos!

Protecting Your Oral Health

By protecting the health of your teeth and gums, you can keep yourself healthier too. Practice good oral hygiene daily to prevent overgrowth of oral bacteria.

This includes:

  • Brushing your teeth at least twice per day
  • Floss daily to remove plaque between teeth
  • Avoid tobacco use, as this can cause irritation in your gums
  • Limit sugary snacks, which can feed bacteria and increase their growth
  • Replace your toothbrush every three or four months

Prevention is Key and WE Can Help!

The best way to prevent tooth decay and gum disease is to follow a program of good oral hygiene, one that you begin early and practice consistently throughout life.

Good oral hygiene. That means brushing your teeth for two minutes at least twice daily — in the morning and before going to bed — and flossing at least once a day. Flossing before you brush allows you to clean away the loosened food particles and bacteria. Good oral hygiene prevents the development of an environment around your teeth that is favorable to specific bacteria that cause periodontal disease.

Regular dental visits. See your dentist or dental hygienist regularly for cleanings, usually every six months. If you have risk factors that increase your chance of developing gum disease — such as having dry mouth, taking certain medications, or smoking — you may need professional cleaning more often. Learn why you need to have a dental checkup every 6 months.

Let’s Review, shall we??

Your toothbrush is an important oral hygiene tool. To maintain your toothbrush and make the most of its lifespan, use only your own toothbrush and store it upright and let it air dry.

Plan to replace the toothbrushes of every person in your family every 3 to 4 months and mark your calendar on the date of the purchase so you remember when it’s time to replace them again.

If you notice a problem with your teeth or gums, call for an appointment right away. The sooner these are handled, the sooner you will be back to full health. Our highly skilled and gentle dentists provide general and family dentistry in the Kansas City, Kansas area to keep our patients healthy – including healthy teeth, healthy gums, and a healthy body. Time for your checkup? Call to schedule today and remember to replace your toothbrush!

Local dentist, Travis A. Roberts and his experienced, friendly team at Adams Dental Group offer affordable family dentistry and gentle dental care in the Kansas City, KS area. We have two locations that are conveniently located and offer appointment times Monday through Friday to meet your needs. At Adams Dental Group, we provide most dental services, from family and general dentistry to specialty procedures, including dental implants, dentures, endodontic or root canal treatment, teeth whitening, cosmetic dentistry and much more. We accept most dental insurance plans and offer affordable financial solutions for any budget. Call us at our West location (913) 296-8030 to schedule an appointment.

February 22nd, 2022

Posted In: Dental Health Tips

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