While the recommendation is to change your toothbrush at least every three months, many people think that is merely a marketing technique to sell more toothbrushes. Not so. There are multiple important health reasons why dental professionals recommend changing your toothbrush every three months.
Bacteria, Bacteria, Bacteria
At the top of the list of reasons to change your toothbrush regularly is the human mouth is teeming with bacteria. All kinds of bacteria – good, bad, and really ugly! When you brush your teeth, some of those bacteria and plaque, cling to and begin to live in and on the bristles of your toothbrush. The longer you use the toothbrush, the more bacteria builds up.
Frequency Of Use Means Your Toothbrush Gets Worn Out
Secondly, the bristles get worn out over time. If you’re brushing two or more times a day, that can produce a lot of wear and tear on your toothbrush. And that’s especially true if you tend to apply lots of pressure when you brush. Worn-out bristles can be abrasive on your gums and can lead to inflammation and premature gum recession. A fresh new brush keeps your teeth cleaner and your gums healthy. And if you are someone who brushes with lots of pressure you may notice the bristles on your toothbrush splaying out and pointing every which way but the right direction sooner than three months. By all means, change your toothbrush before the three-month time period if you do apply lots of pressure.
You Had A Cold, A Flu Or Other Viral Infection
Any time you’ve been sick, it’s very important to replace your toothbrush. It’s very easy to reinfect yourself by using the same toothbrush you used while you were sick. And if you have other family members whose toothbrushes are near yours, cross-contamination is highly probable. You should change all the family toothbrushes after anyone in the family has been sick. Get rid of those bacteria-infected brushes and start fresh.
Keep It Clean
Of course, you want to keep your toothbrush as clean as possible during the three-month use period. But that only requires a good rinse after use, then letting it air dry. I’ve had patients tell me they use cleaning agents if they drop their brush or after they’ve been sick. That is not a good idea. Cleaning agents can cause more harm than good. Likewise, I’ve had patients tell me they try to sterilize their toothbrushes by boiling them in water, putting them in the microwave oven, or washing them in the dishwater. Again, not a good idea. Excessive heat can warp the bristles making them more damaging to your gums and less effective at cleaning your teeth.
Electric Versus Manual Toothbrush
This is one of those questions that I can only answer with, “It depends.” If you’ve always used a manual and your oral health is good, keep up the good work. If you find it difficult to reach certain areas of your mouth with a manual toothbrush, you might find it easier with an electric toothbrush. The choice is really a personal one. And since neither manual toothbrushes nor electric toothbrushes are created equal, you might want to discuss which one your dentist recommends based on your oral health.
I hope you found this brush-up session helpful. Keep brushing, flossing, rinsing, and smiling.