Maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial for overall health and well-being. And going to the dentist for regular exams and cleanings can ensure healthy teeth and smiles for the whole family.
It, however, doesn’t negate your hygiene practices at home. The toothbrush is one of the most simple and vital tools we use to help achieve healthy teeth and gums.
It’s not just a matter of using a toothbrush but also the condition of your toothbrush. The recommendation is to change your toothbrush every 12 to 16 weeks or 3–4 months.
Let’s find out why it’s necessary to change your toothbrush every few months and what can happen if you don’t.
Why Do You Need to Change Your Toothbrush?
A toothbrush can clean the teeth and gums by removing plaque to prevent tooth decay and gum disease that would otherwise require restorative dental care. Here are some reasons why it’s essential to change your toothbrush regularly:
Over time, the bristles of a toothbrush become frayed and worn, making them less effective at cleaning and removing plaque from the teeth and gums.
A toothbrush can become a breeding ground for bacteria over time. The damp environment in the bristles can provide an ideal environment for bacteria to grow and can spread in the mouth.
Wear & Tear
With regular brushing at least twice daily, you can get wear and tear on the bristles and handle. Children may bite on the head or handle, which can affect the cleaning ability and integrity of the toothbrush.
If someone in the family was sick and you don’t replace their toothbrush, there is a risk of reinfection. Family members can also replace toothbrushes to avoid spreading bacterial or viral infections.
Signs Your Toothbrush Needs Replacing
While the general guideline recommended by dentists and toothbrush manufacturers is 3 to 4 months, you may need to replace your toothbrush more frequently. The frequency may depend on usage and personal oral hygiene habits.
If you have any doubt about the condition of your toothbrush, it’s always better to replace it. A few signs may indicate that you need to replace your toothbrush:
- Your bristles are frayed, bent, or flattened.
- Your toothbrush looks dirty; you can’t sanitize a toothbrush.
- You share a holder with your children or other family members and your toothbrushes touch.
- Your toothbrush was in a drawer or container, which can harbour bacteria or mould.
Does It Matter What Type of Toothbrush You Have?
Manual and electric toothbrushes differ in cost and technology. However, they are both effective in cleaning your teeth as long as you use proper brushing techniques.
Soft nylon bristles on toothbrushes are more comfortable and safer but can fray easily, especially if you brush too hard. Some electric toothbrushes have built-in sensors to ensure you don’t press too hard.
Regardless, the bristles on electric toothbrush heads are also nylon but shorter and can wear more quickly with regular use. You can change the brush heads every three months or even earlier if you notice signs of wear and tear.
How to Properly Care for Your Toothbrush
Whether you have a manual or electric toothbrush and despite changing it every 3 to 4 months, there are a few tips to care for your toothbrush to get the most out of it during that time:
- Rinse your toothbrush thoroughly with water after use to remove any debris or toothpaste residue.
- Store your toothbrush in an upright position to allow it to air dry, not in a closed container or covered area, as this can lead to the growth of bacteria and mould.
- Ensure toothbrush heads don’t touch if stored in the same cup or holder.
- Don’t share your toothbrush with others, as this can lead to the spread of bacteria and viruses.
- Avoid putting your toothbrush in mouthwash, disinfectant, or hot water.
Role of Your Toothbrush in Preventative Care
Yes, the lifespan of your toothbrush is short, only a few months. But, by ensuring your toothbrush remains in good condition, you can achieve an at-home oral hygiene routine that your dentist will appreciate.
However, even with excellent oral hygiene habits and healthy teeth and gums, you still need to visit your dentist to rule out other problems or issues. Take a proactive approach and book an appointment with West 85th Dental today.