How Often (& When) You Should Change Toothbrushes

How Often (& When) You Should Change Toothbrushes
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How Often (& When) You Should Change ToothbrushesClinical Content Reviewed by Licensed DDS
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Table of Contents

  1. Changing Your Toothbrush
  2. Toothbrush Care Tips
  3. Eco-Friendly Toothbrushes
  4. Vital to Oral Health Care
  5. References

How Often Should You Change Your Toothbrush?

The American Dental Association (ADA), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and many other public health organizations recommend replacing your toothbrush every three to four months. This is a baseline recommendation, however. You might need to replace your toothbrush sooner, depending on how it looks and if you have stored it safely.

The CDC recommends replacing your toothbrush sooner than three months if the bristles appear worn out. This is not because your toothbrush is unsafe to use, but because flattened or splayed bristles are not as effective at cleaning your teeth.

Do not get a hard-bristled toothbrush to avoid worn-out bristles or to force your toothbrush to last longer. Hard bristles may irritate your gums, which can cause gum recession, tooth sensitivity, and potentially cause an infection.

One study noted that toothbrushes are over-the-counter devices, so there are not many safety recommendations or guidelines clearly on packaging. The study examined the effectiveness of old toothbrushes compared to regularly changed, new toothbrushes in a group of 36 subjects. Each subject started using a new brush at the same time.

By the 40th day of the study, the participants had a similar level of plaque buildup. On days 70 and 100, those who were using their original toothbrushes had greater plaque buildup compared to those who got a new brush. The study shows how important it is to routinely change your toothbrush.

Tips for Toothbrush Care

Although you should replace your toothbrush three to four times per year or sooner if it appears worn out, you can take some steps to make your toothbrush last longer.

  • Rinse the toothbrush with tap water after you have finished brushing your teeth.
  • Store in an upright position to air dry.
  • Do not soak the toothbrush in disinfectant or mouthwash, as this could damage the bristles.
  • Avoid storing toothbrushes in closed containers immediately after use.
  • Do not use dishwashers, microwaves, or ultraviolet light devices to disinfect your toothbrush, as this could damage the bristles.
You should replace your toothbrush every three to four months, but you should replace it sooner if the bristles appear worn or damaged.

What About Eco-Friendly Toothbrushes?

It is important to replace your toothbrush when it shows signs of wear, about every three to four months, but in recent years, many consumers have become concerned about the amount of plastic waste this creates. In response, many companies are producing eco-friendly toothbrushes made from partially or entirely compostable material.

Some of the most popular types of eco-friendly toothbrushes have:

  • A bamboo handle with nylon bristles.
  • A bamboo handle with bristles made from castor bean oil.
  • A bamboo handle with boar bristles.
  • Reusable handles with replaceable brush heads.

How often should you replace an eco-friendly toothbrush? There are not recommendations yet for newer materials like plant-based bristles, but in general, replace your toothbrush when the bristles wear down because they are then less effective. This might take only two months, or it could take six months.

Monitor your toothbrush and get a new one when it looks worn out.

Toothbrushes: Vital to Oral Health Care

The toothbrush is the foundation of the modern oral hygiene routine. Although the first true toothbrush was invented in 1938, the concept of brushing teeth has been around for at least 5,000 years.

Early civilizations often used a “chew stick,” a stick that had frayed ends that were used to brush and somewhat floss the teeth. In 15th century China, toothbrushes had bristles from boars added to them, to scrub the teeth even better.

The first mass-produced design for a toothbrush was invented in 1770. In 1938, nylon bristles were added to toothbrushes for the first time. Soon after, toothbrushes were made almost entirely of plastic.

In the 21st century, there is a wide array of toothbrushes, including everything from manual to powered and plastic to eco-friendly. No matter what type of toothbrush you use, it is important to replace it when it wears down.

Remember that you can extend the life of your toothbrush by taking care of it and brushing your teeth gently. Brushing hard can wear the bristles down faster.

References

Who Invented the Toothbrush and When Was It Invented? Library of Congress. Date fetched: May 3, 2021.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Toothbrush. MouthHealthy, from the American Dental Association (ADA). Date fetched: May 3, 2021.

Zero Waste Toothbrush: Six Brands for That Sustainable Smile. Sustainable Jungle. Date fetched: May 3, 2021.

Use & Handling of Toothbrushes. (March 2016). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Date fetched: May 3, 2021.

Is Plaque Removal Efficacy of Toothbrush Related to Bristle Flaring? A Three-Month Prospective Parallel Experimental Study. (November 2013). Ethiopian Journal of Health Science. Date fetched: May 3, 2021.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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