When Should You Replace Your Toothbrush?

Quick, when was the last time you replaced your toothbrush or the toothbrush head of your electric toothbrush? If you truly can’t remember, that’s a good sign you need a new one. 

The American Dental Association recommends replacing your toothbrush or toothbrush head every three to four months. If the bristles are frayed or matted, replace your toothbrush sooner. 

Replacing your toothbrush on a regular basis might not seem like a big deal, but your toothbrush — along with a fluoride toothpaste and floss — are your No. 1 defenders against cavities, gum disease and other dental problems. When you’re going into battle, you don’t want a worn-out sword! 

OK, now that you’ve added “new toothbrush” to your shopping list, here are some other helpful tips to keep your toothbrush —  and your teeth! —  in tip-top shape. 

Choosing the right toothbrush: 

  • Choose a brush with soft bristles to reduce the risk of gum injury. 
  • A manual toothbrush works just fine as long as you’re brushing your teeth for at least 2 minutes. (Tip: hum the “happy birthday” song twice.)
  • Electric toothbrushes are great for anyone with dexterity issues that make using a manual toothbrush more challenging. If you have braces, an electric toothbrush can be helpful as well. A bonus is that electric toothbrushes often have built-in timers to ensure you’re brushing for a full 2 minutes. 
  • Our favorite electric toothbrushes are the Oral-B and the Philips Sonicare (we have both available for purchase in our office).
  • Select a toothbrush that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance. 

Toothbrush care tips from the ADA: 

  • Don’t share your toothbrush with others. That’s a great way to pass microorganisms from one mouth to another. (Um, no thanks!) If you’re sharing the base of an electric toothbrush, make sure each person has their own toothbrush head and it’s marked or color-coded. 
  • After each use, rinse your toothbrush thoroughly to remove any excess toothpaste or food particles. 
  • Store your toothbrush in an upright position so it can air dry. Putting your damp toothbrush in a closed container leads to mold growth. 

Remember, the goal of brushing your teeth twice a day is to remove any plaque buildup that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Brushing also combats bad breath. Using a worn-out toothbrush will just hinder your efforts. 

If you’re struggling to remember to replace your toothbrush every three to four months, here are two tips that might help: 

  1. Put a reminder on your calendar, in your phone’s reminder app or use an in-home device like Amazon Alexa to give you a nudge when it’s time for a new brush. 
  2. Many shopping sites like Amazon allow you to activate auto shipping for items you use regularly. Add a toothbrush to your cart and have a new one automatically shipped to your door every three months.