How Often Should You Change Your Toothbrush?
You should change your toothbrush (or toothbrush head) every 1-3 months.
There are multiple factors to consider when deciding how soon to change out your toothbrush:
- Oral health
- Immune health
- General health
Your dental health is very important. Dental professionals will tell you: your oral health can affect your overall health. A bacterial infection or gingivitis can get so bad that it spreads to other parts of your body.
So take a minute to read some frequently asked questions. Our answers will guide you through what it takes to maintain healthy teeth.
Why should you replace your toothbrush every 1-3 months?
Why is it important to change your toothbrush every 3 months? You should replace your toothbrush every 1-3 months because the toothbrush bristles get frayed and do not clean plaque as well.
The CDC recommends switching out your toothbrush every 3 months. So, why are we saying 1-3 months? A 2013 study suggested bristles become less effective starting at the 40-day mark. For some, your toothbrush may be less effective after 5 or 6 weeks.
Another good reason to switch out a toothbrush is bacteria buildup. Bacteria buildup should not be a problem if you take measures to keep your toothbrush clean, but it is hard to avoid in the long run.
When toothbrushes are stored in the bathroom, fecal matter can accumulate on your toothbrush after flushing the toilet day by day.
If you are immunocompromised or have a weak immune system, it is suggested you change out your toothbrush more often than every 3 months.
Children may gnaw on a toothbrush, damaging it. Or children may mash the bristles so that they no longer stand up properly. Both are compelling reasons to change out your children’s toothbrush. Dental professionals may suggest children’s toothbrushes need to be replaced every 4-6 weeks.
What happens to toothbrush bristles over time?
Over time, toothbrush bristles fray. It is normal wear and tear, but frayed toothbrush bristles mean less effective plaque removal.
With a suggested oral hygiene routine of brushing twice a day, studies show that toothbrush bristles start to fray around the 3-month mark. Stripes of color are used by many brush heads to indicate that bristles are worn past the recommended time of use. Once the color fades, it’s time to swap out for a new head.
Does an old toothbrush harm your teeth?
Yes, an old toothbrush may harm your teeth by leaving microabrasions on the enamel. When a toothbrush is new, the nylon bristles are rounded at the top, but over time, the bristles are flattened down and become “sharp” in comparison.
This may not cause major damage but can make cavities more likely.
What happens if you do not change your toothbrush? After a couple months of use, old toothbrush bristles become frayed and sharp. Frayed bristles clean plaque less effectively and may scratch your enamel.
Plaque is the smooth film of bacteria that forms on the surface of your teeth. Plaque feeds on sugars and starches to produce acids that eat away at your tooth enamel.
When frayed bristles do not clean plaque effectively, here is what may happen to you:
Should you change your toothbrush after being sick?
You should replace your toothbrush after you have experienced:
- Sore throat
- Canker sore
- Mouth infection
Germs can linger in toothbrush bristles for up to 3 days, leading to reinfection or spreading to other surfaces.
How long after being sick should you change your toothbrush? As soon as your symptoms go away, change out your toothbrush or brush heads.
After you get sick, you should also replace or clean:
- Lip balm
- Bed sheets
There is some controversy over replacing toothbrushes etc. after being sick. Reinfection from the same strain of virus is very uncommon. However, consider this:
- If your immune system is fighting off a reinfection (even successfully), your immune system is effectively weaker to fight off other infections at the same time.
- If your toothbrush is stored near another person’s brush, you risk infecting them. (We’ve got you both covered.)
- It’s better to be safe than sorry — changing your toothbrush or toothbrush head is relatively inexpensive, so why not take the additional precaution?
How often should you change your toothbrush with braces?
You should change out your toothbrush every month with braces or whenever your toothbrush bristles are visibly frayed or bent.
Braces will fray your toothbrush bristles faster than without braces because:
- The braces can be more abrasive to toothbrush bristles.
- People with braces should brush their teeth/braces three times a day, instead of two.
- People with braces need to brush for about four minutes, instead of two.
How to Keep Your Toothbrush Clean
Here are 10 tips on how to keep your toothbrush clean so it lasts the full 3 months before you need to replace it:
- Wash your hands before handling your toothbrush. What is on your hands will get on your toothbrush and toothpaste tube.
- Rinse your toothbrush well after each time you brush your teeth. Some people also like to rinse their toothbrush before they brush.
- Store your toothbrush in an upright position (bristles up) so it can air dry. Some premium brands even provide ventilated covers to snap over your toothbrush head, when not in use. Our custom covers come with every adult toothbrush or can be purchased separately
- Do not allow your toothbrush head to touch any other toothbrush.
- Store your toothbrush at least 3 feet from the nearest toilet. This avoids waste matter splattering onto your brush when you flush.
- Clean your toothbrush holder once a week. Bacteria may build up inside your toothbrush holder, whether it be a cup or a fancy holder you bought from Bed Bath & Beyond. Every toothbrush holder needs to be washed with soap and water.
- Closed toothbrush storage containers should only be used after your toothbrush has had ample time to air dry. Containing your toothbrush in a closed container can encourage mold and bacteria to build up.
- Do not microwave or boil your toothbrush or put it in the dishwasher. Exposing your toothbrush to extreme heat can warp the toothbrush bristles, making the bristles less effective at removing plaque.
- Do not share your toothbrush, ever. If you are worried about being a good host, keep a few manual toothbrushes around for emergencies.
- Buy an electric toothbrush whose brush heads you can replace every few months to cut down on cost. That way you don’t have to buy a brand new toothbrush every 3 months — just a brush head.
How to Choose the Best Toothbrush
There are a few things you should seriously consider when choosing a new toothbrush. What does the right toothbrush look like for your lifestyle?
Electric toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes (basically the same as sonic toothbrushes) are proven to be more effective at removing plaque from your teeth than manual toothbrushes. That is why Triple Bristle’s signature three-sided toothbrush is a sonic toothbrush.
Three-headed toothbrush head. A three-sided toothbrush is a potent alternative to traditional toothbrushes. Studies show three-headed toothbrushes effectively remove plaque, especially when a caregiver is brushing the teeth of someone with special needs. That’s also one reason why we developed the Brush and Bite kit for those with sensory issues.
Soft bristles. The bristles of your toothbrush are more important than you may think. Soft bristles are the right choice because hard bristles may damage your gums or scratch away your tooth’s surface.
Replaceable heads. Electric toothbrushes often offer replaceable brush heads so you don’t have to buy a brand new toothbrush 4 times a year. Triple Bristle offers inexpensive replaceable heads for its three-sided toothbrush.
Choosing the right toothbrush is not the only way to ensure good oral health. Consider these other oral health tools:
- Fluoride toothpaste? The American Dental Association (ADA) suggests using fluoride toothpaste to prevent cavities. However, using fluoride toothpaste (and drinking fluoridated tap water) may contribute to fluoride toxicity.
- Fluoride-free toothpaste. Triple Bristle offers BioMin® C Protection, a fluoride-free toothpaste. This minty fresh toothpaste comes with free shipping in the US!
- Flossing. Don’t forget to floss! Flossing is just as important as tooth brushing. Unwaxed, non-fluoride dental floss is preferable. It is best to floss before you brush.
- Mouthwash. Some mouthwash may contribute to plaque and gingivitis prevention. Mouthwash immediately after you brush your teeth for the best results. It is easiest to rinse with mouthwash at a separate time of day from your normal dental care routine, so it might be a good habit to add after potentially plaque-forming meals.
- Tongue scraper. A tongue scraper (AKA tongue cleaner) works in conjunction with your toothbrush. Tongue scraping seems to remove bad breath bacteria better than brushing your tongue with a toothbrush — which is why we include a tongue cleaner with all of our adult toothbrushes.
Choosing the best toothbrush is a privilege you need to take advantage of. Triple Bristle offers a dentist backed dental hygiene tool for you to take control of your oral health and receive an effective, refreshing clean.
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