When To Change Your Toothbrush Or Toothbrush Head

The most common rule of thumb, coming from the American Dental Association, is that you should replace your toothbrush every three months or so. But in an article for Business Insider last year, veteran New York dentist Keith Arbeitman offered some additions to that rule.

“It really depends how often you use your toothbrush,” Arbeitman told the website, adding that if you brush twice a day as all dentists recommend, then three months is about accurate. Here are a few more in-depth suggestions.

What the experts say about when to change out your toothbrush.

When you feel sick

Toothbrushes can contain over 10 million bacteria and germs, but they fortunately need water to survive, so as long as your brush can dry out between uses the germs will all die. But if you are carrying any kind of throat or rhinovirus, the period when the brush is still wet is a window of opportunity in which the virus may jump over to someone else’s toothbrush. You may want to throw your brush away or keep it temporarily somewhere else when you’re sick.

When the bristles start to bend or fray

Much like a car’s engine oil, it’s not about the length of time but about the usage. That’s why we talk about changing your oil every 3,000 miles, rather than just “every X months.” So while it is important to brush twice a day, there are other things you can look at.

“Once the bristles start to bend, you’re not really cleaning as effectively,” says Arbeitman.

There are other ways to tell too. Many modern toothbrushes come with some coloring that fades off with use. Once it’s gone, you know to get a new one.

Brush caps don’t help

A 2015 study found that fecal coliforms (a bacteria found in feces) were found on toothbrushes stored in a communal bathroom.

But don’t be too quick to protect your brush with a brush cap. A 2007 study in Europe found that by preventing the drying out process, using protective caps led to more germ growth. The study further suggested that the best way to protect your toothbrush was to leave it immersed in chlorhexidine gluconate, which is found in most commercially available mouthwashes.

Types of brushes

The rules for judging how much use a toothbrush has in it apply to the disposable heads of electric toothbrushes. Both kinds have advantages: manual brushes are more portable and in most places probably less expensive, while electric brushes are bulkier but give a better cleaning since they work in a rotary motion instead of back-and-forth. If you go with manual, we recommend you brush in little circular motions, and you’ll get the same deep cleaning.

If you want any more information or advice about toothbrushes or anything dental, Apple Valley Dental Group would be happy to answer questions. Call us at 540-635-2493 or visit us on our website.

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