How Long Should You Keep a Toothbrush?

toothbrushMost people look for long-term relationships, both with a spouse and with a group of friends. But your dentist in Sacramento wants you to know that there’s one relationship that should never last longer than three months — your relationship with your toothbrush. We’re not saying that you should stop brushing, we’d never suggest that. But we do recommend replacing your toothbrush four times a year. However, there are times when you should consider replacing it sooner than that. 

Bacteria Buildup

We all know that our toothbrushes are responsible for removing plaque, bacteria, and lingering food particles from our teeth. But think about it: if you never replace your toothbrush, just how much bacteria buildup would be on those bristles? Too much. This is one reason why your dentist in Sacramento and the American Dental Association encourages patients to swap out their toothbrushes (or toothbrush head if you’re using an electronic one) every three to maybe four months. However, bacteria buildup isn’t the only reason why a new toothbrush is needed every so often. As the bristles begin to wear down over time, the toothbrush also becomes less effective at cleaning your teeth, putting you at risk of decay, cavities, and other oral health problems. In fact, there are times when you should replace your brush even earlier than 3-4 months.

What to Look For

How do you know it’s time to get a new toothbrush even if you’re technically not due for one yet? It’s easy, and there are some tell-tale signs that it’s time to trash your toothbrush. You should look for signs in the bristles such as:  

  • Fraying
  • Discoloration
  • Flattening

If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to break up with your toothbrush and upgrade to a new one. 

An Important Note

It’s worth noting that even if your toothbrush is in great condition and not showing signs of wear and tear, you should always replace your toothbrush after you’ve been sick to lower the risk of reintroducing the illness back into your system. 

Proper Care is Key

To get the most out of your toothbrush and to help make it last the full three or possibly four months, you need to take care of it properly. Follow these tips to get the most out of your short, three-month relationship with your toothbrush. 

  • Don’t Share. Our parents always taught us that it’s polite to share. But they forgot one exception to that rule — your toothbrush. You should never share your toothbrush with anyone, even a family member or child. Sharing your toothbrush is also a great way to swap bacteria. 
  • Always Rinse It. Every time after you brush, it’s crucial that you thoroughly rinse away any extra toothpaste from between your bristles. This also helps wash germs and bacteria down the sink. 
  • Keep It Upright. In between brushings, make sure to properly store your toothbrush with the bristles up. This allows anything lingering around to fall off the bristles as they dry. Speaking of drying, we also recommend keeping your toothbrush uncovered and away from other household toothbrushes.  

Replacing your toothbrush every three months or after a cold is the best way to make sure that it’s in the best condition possible to properly care for your oral health. Additionally, making sure to take care of your toothbrush can extend its life for the full three months. As always, pairing a great oral hygiene routine at home with visits to your dentist in Sacramento twice a year is the best combination to keep your smile healthy.