Sometimes, people wait until their biannual cleaning to replace their toothbrushes. While the cleaning can act as a helpful reminder, Dr. Stevens of Riverside Dental Care says, “You should replace your toothbrush more often than you think.”
In fact, according to the American Dental Association, you should change your toothbrush every three to four months.
Why Replace Your Toothbrush Often
It can seem excessive to change out your toothbrush that often. However, there are many health-related reasons why you shouldn’t hang onto a toothbrush for too long.
Less effective over time
The plastic bristles of a toothbrush wear down over time, especially if you are following the recommended twice a day, two-minute long brushing sessions. As the bristles fray, they spread out and become far less effective at taking plaque, food particles, and bacteria off of your teeth.
If your toothbrush bristles haven’t started to fray around the three-month point, you may need to evaluate how long you are brushing. Along with posing for great pictures like the one above, our dental hygienists on staff often teach younger children tricks to help them brush their teeth longer. However, for adults, you may want to set a two-minute timer and use it to help you use your toothbrush more effectively.
Trapped bacteria, germs, fungus
Okay, time for some slightly gross facts. Over a few months of use, your toothbrush can build up a significant amount of bacteria, as well as trapped germs. Also, since your toothbrush is regularly damp and wet, fungus can develop, especially as the bristles start to warp.
Rather than re-introducing bacteria and germs into your mouth, it is best to stick to a good schedule of replacing your toothbrush every three months. One caveat would be after you have gotten over a cold, flu, or oral infection. The germs from these issues can live on your toothbrush and trigger a relapse. So, after you have had the flu, a cold, or an oral infection, you may want to chuck out your old toothbrush and start fresh.
Hard water buildup
While not all regions have this issue, St. George, UT, and the surrounding communities have hard water, which means there is a high mineral content in the water. As most people brush and rinse their teeth with tap water, it’s highly likely that your toothbrush will make repeated contact with hard water.
After a while, the buildup of hard water minerals on your toothbrush can become abrasive and can hurt your enamel and sensitive gums over time.
Signs That You Need A New Toothbrush
If you are looking at your toothbrush a little suspiciously right now, that’s a good thing. In most cases, individuals can’t remember the last time they changed out their toothbrush. Generally, that means it’s time to toss out your toothbrush or toothbrush head and put out a new one.
Other signs that mean you need a new toothbrush are:
- Your toothbrush bristles no longer stand straight up together and instead, are becoming splayed out and frayed.
- Contact with another toothbrush or other unhygienic environments can be a good reason to change out your toothbrush. Someone else’s toothbrush can migrate different bacteria into your mouth, and a toothbrush dropped in a place like the toilet is a lost cause.
- If you have recently been sick, throw out your old toothbrush with its germs, and treat yourself to a new toothbrush.
- Toothpaste can build up after repeat brushing. Once the buildup is noticeable, it’s time for a replacement.
There are services where you can set up recurring toothbrush replacements or set reminders on your phone to help you ensure that you are changing out your toothbrush regularly.
What To Look For In A Good Toothbrush
Brushing your teeth regularly is one of the best things you can do for your dental health. To ensure that your toothbrush is doing the most good for your oral health, you should be sure that you have a good toothbrush.
Now, this doesn’t mean you need to buy an electric toothbrush. While electric toothbrushes can help with the right brushing movement and can be especially effective for younger brushers, you can easily use a manual toothbrush.
Whether you go electric or stick with trusty manual toothbrushes, here are some things to look for in a good toothbrush.
- Soft bristles are a must. Your teeth aren’t dirty pots, so there is no need to take the toothbrush equivalent of steel wool to them. Instead, by using a soft-bristled toothbrush, you can keep from damaging your enamel while cleaning your teeth.
- Having a tongue-scrubber on the back of your toothbrush can be helpful.
- Children need an appropriate toothbrush. Adult-sized toothbrushes can be too larger and make effectively brushing difficult.
- Bonus toothbrush tip! Be sure to store your toothbrush upright so that water can effectively drain off rather than sitting at the base of the bristles.
To help you stay on top of your dental care routine, Riverside Dental Care is here to help. We have two convenient locations for you to visit, so contact us today to enjoy the best dental care!