How Often Do You Need a New Toothbrush?

You can get attached to your toothbrush, but almost always because of the color or hand-feel and not because it is still effective.  A worn-out toothbrush is not keeping plaque off your teeth, nor is it massaging your gums.  “A worn-out toothbrush is not helping you keep a bright, white smile,” says Dr. Carol Ford from her Phoenix cosmetic dentistry office.  “And switching toothbrushes or buying a new head for your electric brush is easy to do and has an immediate effect on your dental health,” she adds.

When should you buy a new brush?

brushing teeth

1. Every three months, recommends the American Dental Association (ADA). or, if easier, at the beginning of each season. Every brush wears out and you don’t want to keep it past its effective use date. How do you know when the brush head is worn out?

  • When the bristles splay, or lean in different directions.
  • If any of the bristles come out.
  • If the bristles discolor, or deposits collect at the bristles’ base.

2. When you are ill. Change your brush when you get sick, and, if you are taking antibiotics, when you have taken the complete dosage. Germs from strep throat, colds,  and the flu can live on your toothbrush and re-infect you.

3. After chemotherapy. Chemotherapy and other medical treatments can weaken your immune system. It’s an easy step to change your brush or brush head when you are under medical stress.

4. If you have been storing your brush in a closed case. A brush that’s damp is a brush that holds onto bacteria.

5. If your brush is stored close to a toilet. A toilet flush often sprays bacteria-laden water. Some hotels or small bathrooms are so compact that your brush may wind up too close to the toilet bowl. Move your brush to the far side of the sink. And wash your hands between flushing and brushing your teeth.

Keep your brush clean by storing it upright, letting it air dry and rinsing it thoroughly after you use it. Dipping it in mouthwash after you rinse your toothbrush will also kill germs.  “Don’t clean your brush by putting it in the microwave or dishwasher,” says Dr. Ford. “The heat can damage the bristles and the handle of a manual brush and ruin an electric brush and damage your microwave in the process,” she adds.

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