This is a question that I seldomly hear from patients, but one that is just as important as getting your regular cleaning and exam. In a world where everything has an expiration date, when does a toothbrush expire? Well, according to most dentists and the ADA, its every 3 months. This may be sooner if your brush is showing signs of wear. Over time, toothbrushes go through wear and tear and become less effective at removing plaque from your teeth and gums. I know it’s hard to believe but someone has actually been paid to run studies on this very subject and they found that the 3- month mark is when the bristles of your brush start to lose their effectiveness.
Also, germs can hide and build up in the bristles making it important to replace your toothbrush after you’ve been sick. Fungus and mold can also develop in the bristles if not taken care of properly. After each use your toothbrush should be rinsed off and dried thoroughly. Storing your toothbrush in an uncovered, upright position and away from other toothbrushes should do the trick. If you are traveling, make sure to cover the head of your toothbrush to protect it from germs.
If you can’t remember how long it’s been since you replaced your toothbrush, pay attention to the condition of your toothbrush head. If the bristles are worn out, fanned out, frayed, or you see dark color changes, it’s time for a new one.
Some common suggestions I like to give my patients are to look for a soft bristle brush with a head size that touches one or two teeth at a time. Hard bristles can tend to damage your teeth and gums. Also, use a toothpaste that is ADA approved and consider using a mouthwash that fights plaque or gingivitis and don’t forget to floss.
Lastly, Electric toothbrushes have been proven to remove plaque, reduce gingivitis, and eliminate teeth staining more effectively than a manual toothbrush. Do your research on what products fit your needs best and don’t forget to ask me next time you are in.
Dr. Mike Witkowski DDS