Brushing your teeth regularly is one of the most important things you can do for your health. However, over time, your toothbrush may begin to weather and lose some of its effectiveness. To help you figure out when this happens (and how) we compiled this brief guide on changing your toothbrush for your best dental health ever.
Read on to find out what happens if you don’t change your toothbrush, how often you should change your toothbrush and the best ways to care for your new toothbrush so it lasts you a long time.
The vast majority of dentists agree: brushing your teeth is one of the best ways to defend yourself against the bacteria that cause bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease.
However, with frequent use, the bristles in your toothbrush become weaker, which makes your toothbrush less likely to effectively remove bacteria.
In addition, the bristles on your toothbrush can even form into a new shape, a phenomenon known as “bristle flaring,” which makes your toothbrush significantly less effective in clearing up plaque.
This can have all kinds of consequences for your dental health (and even general health). There are dozens of effects of plaque build-up, which include bad breath, swollen gums, tooth sensitivity, and cavities. If severe enough, plaque buildup can lead to gum disease, nerve tissue damage, and even chronic disease.
All of these factors make it incredibly important to regularly check on the quality of your toothbrush.
The general guidelines for changing your toothbrush are about every three months. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this is the case if you brush your teeth twice per day. For those who brush more regularly (such as after every meal), it makes sense to decrease that number to one or two months.
In addition, if you’re more of an aggressive brusher, then your toothbrush might begin to “flare” much sooner, which can undermine its effectiveness. If that’s the case, then it’s good to replace your toothbrush as soon as it starts to show signs of wear.
Depending on the type of electric toothbrush you use, the bristles on it may be shorter, which can lead to them getting worn out more quickly.
While it’s still recommended to switch out electric toothbrush heads every three months, it’s a good idea to use your better judgment. If you notice that your electric toothbrush bristles are becoming worn out sooner than the three-month mark, then it’s a good idea to switch it out for a new one.
We recommend using your regular toothbrush for travel (with a protective cover). This is because it’ll be easier to keep track of how well it’s doing and to replace it when necessary.
However, if you travel a lot and have a toothbrush dedicated just to this purpose, then it might not be necessary to replace it as often as a regular toothbrush. Just keep an eye on the bristles to make sure that they’re in good condition.
In either case, it’s important for your travel toothbrush to get ventilation so that it doesn’t become a breeding ground for bacteria. As such, make sure to invest in a case with tiny openings that allow oxygen to get through and to store in a dry environment.
If you’re replacing your toothbrush, it’s never a bad idea to go for an upgrade. Here are three of our top tips for buying a new toothbrush that will do your teeth a favor.
In general, there are three types of bristles available for a toothbrush: soft, medium, and hard nylon bristles. Depending on how aggressively you brush your teeth, medium or hard nylon bristles can be incredibly abrasive and damage your tooth enamel.
For this reason, a soft-bristled toothbrush is the best choice for many people. Not only is it the safest choice, but it’s also quite pleasant to use. For this reason, it’s the choice we’d go with every time.
When it comes to clearing up plaque, there’s no significant difference between a manual and an electric toothbrush. For this reason, the option you choose to go with really depends on your personal preference.
That said, there are some electric toothbrushes that have added features. For example, a built-in timer will make sure that you brush your teeth for the recommended two minutes every time. Another reason we love electric toothbrushes is that they’re easier to use for those who experience limited mobility due to conditions such as arthritis.
All in all, the best type of toothbrush is one you will enjoy using. If there’s a certain color or pattern that will make you happy to use your toothbrush in the morning, then it’s the one you should go for every time. If you like the feel of bamboo, then it makes for a wonderful product. Even foregoing the popular nylon bristles can have its benefits. In the end, it’s all about what you like!
There are many things you can do to make sure your toothbrush lasts you as long as possible. Here are some of our favorite tips:
After your toothbrush has cleaned the entirety of your mouth, it’s a good idea to give it a thorough rinse under warm water. This will make sure to remove any remaining food particles, bacteria, and even leftover toothpaste.
A moist or humid environment can encourage bacterial growth on your toothbrush. For this reason, it’s a good idea to keep it in a dry and well-ventilated environment.
Start by always shaking excess water off your toothbrush before putting it away. And try to avoid laying it down on a counter. Instead, try to store it upright in a toothbrush holder.
You may think that putting your toothbrush into a protective case can prevent bacteria from getting on it, but this can actually cause more bacteria to form on it. This is due to a lack of ventilation, which encourages bacterial growth.
To prevent this, stick to using covers only when traveling. And if you’re using a cover, try to stick to those with small openings in them as they will allow ample oxygen to get through.
Keep It Away From the Toilet
Did you know that flushing your toilet makes all kinds of bacteria spray around your bathroom? This can certainly include your toothbrush if it’s close enough to the toilet.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to keep your toothbrush at least six feet away from the toilet. Or, if your bathroom space doesn’t allow for it, try to keep the lid closed on the toilet every time that you flush.
The idea of sharing a toothbrush might be an absolute no-no for many people, but more of us share toothbrushes than we care to admit.
This is generally a bad idea for those who are immunocompromised, as the bacteria from one individual’s mouth can live on their toothbrush and spread to another person. Immunocompromised or not, it’s always best to avoid sharing a toothbrush—just to be on the safe side.
If you use too much force to clean your teeth, your toothbrush can suffer as a result, which will lead to increased weathering and fraying. Not only that but being too abrasive is generally bad for your teeth.
For this reason, we recommend being as gentle as possible when brushing. Instead of focusing on aggressiveness, focus on being as thorough as possible. Your teeth (and toothbrush) will thank you!
Common viruses that make you sick can live on your toothbrush for days after your infection. Even though your body develops antibodies that should—in theory—prevent reinfection, it’s still a good idea to replace your toothbrush after you’ve recovered from an illness. In these post-pandemic times, it’s good to be as safe as possible when it comes to your health.
Although the standard recommendation is to replace your toothbrush every three months, it’s a good idea to use your better judgment and to chuck your toothbrush when it starts showing signs of weathering.
And while brushing your teeth is one of the most important things you can do to prevent dental problems, don’t forget to see your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings!