Let’s play a game. When was the last time you checked your smoke detector batteries? When was the last time you got your oil changed? When was the last time you washed your bed sheets? Okay, one more. When was the last time you replaced your toothbrush?
If you’re anything like most Americans you probably took a little bit longer to answer that last question. The sad truth is that dental routines get much less attention than other aspects of our lives. We rhythmically rotate our tires, get our family photos taken, clean out our pantries and purge old food from our kitchens; but our dental products rarely get a second thought.
In this blog we’re going to cover everything you need to know about replacing your toothbrush and hopefully you will become one of the few dental hygiene heroes of the world that remind others to be replacing their toothbrushes at least as often as they change their oil!
Why should you replace your toothbrush?
Most people think an old toothbrush is better than no toothbrush at all and actually that’s only half true. While an old toothbrush will still clean food debris from your teeth it will not contribute to your overall dental hygiene like you may think. Old toothbrushes are often covered in tiny food particles, germs, bacteria and all sorts of other microlife that aren’t great for your mouth.
Old toothbrushes also typically have greater signs of wear and oftentimes can be too harsh on your gums. Jagged bristles can cut your gums and then all that bacteria that has accumulated on the bristles can enter your bloodstream. When the conditions are right this can lead to infections and other dental issues.
A toothbrush is a tool – not a magic wand!
How often to replace your toothbrush?
So we know it needs to be replaced before it accumulates a bunch of harmful bacteria and the bristles get warped but when exactly is that? The standard guideline given by the American Dental Association is once every 3 months.
Prot-tip: 3 months translates to one quarter of a year. Opt to change your toothbrush at the start of every season and you’ll never have to struggle to remind yourself again.
Should I replace it more often than every 3 months?
There are some cases in which it is a good idea to replace your toothbrush before 3 months.
Some common reasons include:
- The toothbrush is showing signs of wear.
- You were recently sick.
- You recently had an oral infection.
- You were traveling recently and it was stored in a plastic cover. (This accelerates bacteria growth.)
- You’ve otherwise compromised it’s cleanliness.
The Bottom Line
A toothbrush is a tool and in order to do the job it was designed to do it has to be kept in good working condition. If it starts to break down, replace it immediately. It can and will harm your gums.
Toothbrushes are also not sterile and since they have to have contact with your mouth it’s important to keep them as clean as possible. You can sterilize your toothbrush by dipping it in mouthwash after using it, but this will only last so long. You must replace it at least every 3 months and always after you’ve been sick to prevent the spread of germs.
Also keep in mind your toothbrush cannot remove all your dental build-up, even if you have the world best toothbrush in the world’s best condition. Be sure to schedule a check-up with your dentist at least twice a year to be sure you’re deserving of the term dental hygiene hero!