We all know we should frequently replace our toothbrushes. Most of us, however, don’t do it nearly enough. Misinformation and a lack of concern for dental hygiene are to blame. If you think the free toothbrush you get at your bi-annual dental cleaning is enough to coast on, you’re wrong.
The American Dental Association suggests people should change their toothbrushes once every three months. However, this metric is rarely accurate; replacement frequency depends entirely on how often you use your toothbrush. Rather than using time to measure replacements, simply look at the bristles. If they start to bend, the brush is not cleaning as effectively as it should. This is when you should replace.
If you brush your teeth twice every day (the ADA-recommended amount), the 3-month guideline is probably correct. If you brush less, you won’t need to change as frequently. However, this “brush-saving” strategy is not recommended.
If you can’t tell your toothbrush’s effectiveness by the bristles, use another trick. After brushing, run your tongue across your teeth. If you have a clean, slippery feeling, the brush is still cleaning adequately. If not, it is probably time to buy a new utensil.
Cleaning effectiveness is a great metric for toothbrush replacement, but bacteria build-up should also be considered. To avoid excessive bacteria, follow these tips:
- Replace your toothbrush if you or a roommate has been sick.
- Let the toothbrush stand up to dry between uses. This will allow the bacteria to die.
- Store your toothbrush as far from the toilet as possible.
- Refrain from using plastic brush caps.
Toothbrushes are the first steps toward oral health. If you’re on the fence about replacing yours, it’s a good idea to go ahead and do it—these inexpensive tools prevent bacteria and tartar build-up, which could lead to more serious dental conditions. When in doubt, throw it out.