Brushing our teeth is part of daily life. Most of us don’t think twice about this twice-daily routine, and probably even less about the rate at which we change our toothbrushes. But making sure that your toothbrush is clean and up to the job at hand is so important for our oral health. A toothbrush has a limited lifespan and needs to be changed regularly to ensure that you’re getting the best results when you brush your teeth. When was the last time you changed your toothbrush? Is it time to replace those bristles? Let’s find out!
How Often Should I Change My Toothbrush?
It is generally recommended by dental professionals that we change our toothbrushes at least every 12-16 weeks. If you’re brushing your teeth twice per day, for a duration of two minutes each time, the bristles on your toothbrush are going to become heavily worn by the three-month mark (if not before). If you tend to brush more heavily or frequently, the lifespan of your toothbrush might be significantly less.
To work optimally, your toothbrush head should have relatively straight bristles that can clean between your teeth and into those hard-to-reach spots. These bristles remove food debris, plaque, and bacteria from your teeth, so as soon as your toothbrush starts to appear worn, it’s time to replace it.
Both manual toothbrushes and electric toothbrush heads need to be replaced approximately every three months or at the first sign of significant wear and tear. Electric toothbrush heads sometimes wear out more quickly than their manual counterparts so make sure to replace them regularly.
Why Is It Important to Change a Toothbrush Regularly?
Aside from the fact that nobody wants to use a manky old toothbrush, there’s very good reason to regularly replace your toothbrush. The bristles on a toothbrush become weakened with each use. We’ve all seen a frayed toothbrush left in the bathroom too long. When bristles become frayed like this, the toothbrush is much less effective at removing plaque and bacteria from your teeth and mouth. Over time this could lead to more severe problems like tooth decay or gum disease.
Not only are worn toothbrushes less effective, but they could be damaging your teeth and gums too. When bristles become frayed, they are more abrasive than newer toothbrushes and can damage tooth enamel and gum tissue, leading to enamel erosion.
Worried about being wasteful? Some people hold onto their old toothbrushes because they do not want to contribute to plastic pollution or add another item to our landfills. Luckily, there are alternative options out there that mean you can replace your toothbrush without worrying about your environmental footprint. Switching from traditional plastic brushes to biodegradable alternatives means that you can change out your brush whenever you need to without the guilt.
Replacing your toothbrush regularly is highly beneficial for your oral health for many reasons. Let’s look at some of the top benefits in more detail below.
1. It reduces the risk of infection
Changing your toothbrush reduces the risk of bacterial buildup and infection. Brushing and flossing remove bacteria from our mouths. When we brush our teeth, the bacteria transfer to our toothbrush, and left too long, these bacteria will multiply on your toothbrush. To avoid bacterial buildup, make sure to rinse your toothbrush bristles thoroughly after every use and replace your toothbrush at least once every three months.
2. Reduces the likelihood of exposure
Old toothbrushes may collect fungi, mold, and other microorganisms over time. These microorganisms can lead to health conditions, so it’s important to keep them at bay. Regularly changing out your toothbrush or toothbrush head means you will limit your exposure and prevent any unnecessary health problems that might occur as a result.
How to Keep Your Toothbrush Clean and Make It Last Longer
As well as changing out your toothbrush every three months, it’s important to maintain toothbrush cleanliness. It would be best not to share your toothbrush with anybody else – even those in your household. This causes the transfer of bacteria and could easily share illnesses. Ideally, toothbrushes should be stored so that their heads do not touch, to prevent any transference of bacteria and germs.
Top tip: It is a common misconception that toothbrush head shields/ containers are more hygienic. In fact, some of these containers encourage bacteria, germs, and mold to multiply in their warm, damp conditions. The best way to store toothbrushes is upright in a toothbrush holder, ensuring that toothbrush heads are not touching.
Signs It’s Time to Change Your Toothbrush
Okay, so we know that we should be changing our toothbrushes out roughly every three months but sometimes life doesn’t always follow an exact timeline. It’s no different for your toothbrush. There may be some instances where you’ll need to change out your toothbrush before the three-month mark. Check your toothbrush weekly and look out for the following signs that it’s time for a change.
1. If you or someone in your household has been sick
If you’ve been sick or unwell, the bacteria and viruses you’ve been harboring will end up on your toothbrush. Changing your toothbrush after a period of illness will reduce the likelihood that you will reinfect yourself with these bugs.
Similarly, if a member of your household has been sick or unwell, it’s best to replace all the toothbrushes that have been stored near that person’s brush (even if the toothbrushes haven’t come into contact). Bacteria spreads fast and could lead to other people in the house becoming sick too.
2. You start to notice frayed bristles
Once you start to notice those frayed bristles, it’s time to think about changing out your toothbrush. Some light fraying is generally okay, but as soon as those bristles start to feel abrasive while you brush or start pointing out every which way, enough is enough! Time to go out and buy a new one or replace that head if you’re using an electric toothbrush.
3. Your teeth don’t feel clean
Ever noticed your teeth feeling a bit…well… soft and fuzzy? If your teeth don’t feel fresh, smooth, and clean after brushing, the likelihood is that they haven’t been cleaned very well. Chances are that’s because your toothbrush isn’t what it once was and it’s time for a replacement.
4. A bit of a pong
If you notice your toothbrush started to smell a bit funky, then halt right there. That’s a toothbrush that needs to be gone! A toothbrush that smells is a toothbrush heaving with bacteria, mold, and grime and a sure-fire way to tell that you need a new one.
Change Out That Brush!
So, there we have it. We should all be changing our toothbrushes and toothbrush heads regularly to avoid unnecessary bacterial buildup that could lead to infection. To keep our mouths squeaky clean, we should all be aiming to change our toothbrush (kids, too!) every 3 months or at the first sign of significant wear and tear. By switching out your old toothbrush and toothpaste for a biodegradable alternative, you’ll be able to update your oral care regularly while still being sustainable.