Dentistry is filled with a number of great mysteries: How effective is mouthwash, really? Do I have to floss once a day? Do wisdom teeth really make me wiser? Okay, so most of these mysteries aren’t all that mysterious, but here’s one we’re asked about a lot and would love to answer: how often should you change your toothbrush? Our answers are all health-related:
Every 3 Months
Here’s an easy guideline for you: change your toothbrush every 3 months. Okay, article over, right? Well – not quite yet. The “every 3 months” recommendation is based largely on the idea that you’ll be brushing your teeth twice a day, every day. Unfortunately, not everyone is up to snuff on that particular recommendation, which leads us to…
When the Bristles Get Twisted
When you get a new toothbrush, run your tongue along it. Feel how smooth and slippery it is? That’s a great feeling. When you start losing that feeling, it’s probably a good idea to change your toothbrush. Be observant – when you see a lot of the bristles are out of place, bent out of shape, or missing, it’s a good time to replace the thing.
When You Get Sick
We brush our teeth in order to kill harmful bacteria. When we get sick, especially with bacterial infections, brushing our teeth leads to those very same illness-causing bacteria landing on our toothbrushes. When you get sick, you should throw away your toothbrush and get a new one once the illness is more or less over. Here’s another pro-toothbrushing tip: never get those toothbrush covers you see sometimes. You might think they protect your teeth against contamination, but in reality, they just create a breeding ground for bacteria to fester in.
Here’s a tip for you folks with families: when any member of the family gets sick, you should toss everyone’s toothbrush, especially if you keep them all in close quarters. Bacteria spread very easily, especially in moist, damp environments like your bathroom. When possible, create a barrier that separates your toothbrushes during illness – once again, however, avoid those toothbrush covers.
When You See Your Dentist
This is the least optimal strategy, unfortunately, it’s one we see a lot of people using. Yes, you get a toothbrush for free from the dentist, and if you’re going every year anyway, you might as well take advantage of it. That all said, you shouldn’t have your yearly visit to the dentist be the only time you change your toothbrush – make it a part of your 3 month rotation schedule, if nothing else.
When you visit a recognized dental office, we can help you make decisions about your oral health. That includes how often you should brush, how often you should replace your toothbrush, what kind of toothbrush and toothpaste you should be using, and more. Never hesitate to ask as many questions as you need to when you visit your dentist; we’re here to help, and we want your oral health to be the best it can possibly be.