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How Often Should You Replace Your Toothbrush?

How Often Should You Replace Your Toothbrush?

Have you been wondering how long you have been using your current toothbrush? Are the bristles bent or frayed? Have you felt under the weather lately? Chances are, it’s time to change to a new toothbrush. At Hawthorn Road Family Dental Clinic, we want you to have the healthiest smile possible. Proper cleansing, disinfecting, and frequently replacing your toothbrush are key to maintaining not only your best oral health but also your overall wellness. Here are some important guidelines on caring for your toothbrush and when it’s time to replace it with a new one.

Toothbrush Germs: Why Is It Important to Replace Your Toothbrush?

You routinely change the sponge or brush you use to clean dishes. After all, you don’t want to wash dishes with a dirty sponge. Whether you use a manual brush or an electric version, you would not want to brush your teeth with a dirty toothbrush, either. Bacteria from your mouth collects on your toothbrush over time. Because bristles tend to retain moisture, these harmful bacteria will often multiply. These germs are then reintroduced into your mouth every time you brush your teeth!

With proper cleaning, you can remove most of these bacteria, but some germs will still remain. Our Caulfield North dentists recommend cleaning your toothbrush once a week and replacing it every three months. Some patients, however, should be replacing their toothbrushes even more frequently.

Why Do Toothbrushes Need to Be Changed?

Toothbrushes are not made to last forever. With normal use, toothbrush bristles will eventually become frayed on the ends, causing them to be less effective. Using a frayed toothbrush will soon cause inflammation of the gum tissues and possible permanent abrasion to the surface of your enamel. When teeth are brushed too aggressively, toothbrush bristles not only fray but will also start to lay down and appear bent. These bent bristles are much less effective at cleaning your teeth, which can contribute to gingivitis and periodontal disease. For the best results and to maintain good oral health, toothbrushes need to be cleaned on a regular basis and replaced before they show these signs of wear.

Electric toothbrush heads also need to be cleaned often and replaced frequently. Often, this type of toothbrush head will not appear to be worn, but the effectiveness of these brushes will be reduced over time. Electric toothbrush heads need to be replaced just as often as manual ones.

Your Toothbrush Can Actually Make You Sick!

There are certain times of the year when viruses are at their peak. Viruses such as those that cause strep throat and the flu can actually live on the bristles of your toothbrush and then be reintroduced to your body. Proper disinfection or sanitisation of your toothbrush can reduce these germs and help you recover from them more quickly. And once your body has overcome the illness, replacing your toothbrush is necessary to stay well.

Periodontal disease, often called “gum disease,” is one of the leading causes of tooth loss. The bacteria that cause gingivitis and periodontal disease are also found on your toothbrush. When areas of periodontal disease are present in the mouth, your toothbrush can actually spread those germs to other areas of your mouth. Your toothbrush needs to be cleaned regularly and replaced even more frequently to prevent this bacteria from spreading to healthy gums and bone tissue.

Keeping your toothbrush in your bathroom can also cause the spread of germs and illness. When the toilet is flushed, thousands of aerosol droplets are produced, which can contaminate your toothbrush with harmful bacteria and viruses. Storing your cleaned and disinfected toothbrush properly is crucial to maintaining good health.

Your Oral Health Is Directly Related to Your Overall Wellness

Not only do the bacteria from viruses and periodontal disease live on your toothbrush, but studies have proven that the bacteria found in the mouths of patients with periodontal disease are also found in the arterial walls of people with cardiovascular disease. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death worldwide.

Periodontal disease can also interfere with the treatment of diabetes and can lead to the long-term use of insulin replacement medications. Keeping your toothbrush clean and replacing it often can bring you one step closer to managing your blood glucose levels.


How to Clean a Toothbrush

Keeping your toothbrush as clean as possible and disinfecting it regularly can lengthen the lifetime of your brush. There are several simple ways to clean and disinfect your toothbrush:

  • Because hot water tends to kill more bacteria than cold, rinsing your brush off with hot water after using it will keep it cleaner.
  • Sanitise your toothbrush by mixing one teaspoon of household peroxide with one cup of water. Soak your toothbrush head in the solution for 15 minutes, then thoroughly rinse it and allow it to air dry.
  • Using apple cider vinegar is also an easy way to kill bacteria living on your toothbrush bristles. No diluting is required with apple cider vinegar, just soak your brush for about 30 seconds, rinse, and then air dry.
  • Run your toothbrush through the dishwasher.
  • Consider using an ultraviolet toothbrush sanitiser. Studies have shown that the use of ultraviolet rays, when applied to the toothbrush bristles, significantly reduces the number of bacteria.
  • Always store your toothbrush in an upright position, allowing droplets to drip away from the bristles.

When to Replace a Normal Toothbrush

Even with regular disinfection, replacing your manual toothbrush every three months is recommended by most dental professionals. If you notice your bristles lying over or looking bent, replace them sooner and try to brush less aggressively.

For patients undergoing treatment for periodontal disease or patients with illnesses such as strep or flu, replacing your toothbrush more often is necessary to fight against these conditions.
When replacing your toothbrush, always choose one with a soft or extra soft brush head. These bristles are more flexible and can clean around the gum tissue and between the teeth better than a harder toothbrush. A hard bristled brush is too stiff and will cause irritation to the gum tissue and eventually lead to recession and sensitivity.

How to Clean an Electric Toothbrush

Cleaning the head of your electric toothbrush is about the same as the manual one, but the handle needs a little extra attention. On most electric toothbrushes, the head is easily removed so that you can soak or disinfect it. Even though electric toothbrushes are made to get wet, do not completely submerge your electric toothbrush handle in water or any disinfectant solution. Never put your toothbrush handle in the dishwasher or microwave. Instead, rinse the handle thoroughly with warm water and then wipe the handle with a disinfectant wipe or rubbing alcohol. Allow both the handle and the head to air dry before reassembling.

When to Replace an Electric Toothbrush

Changing the head of your electric toothbrush is the same as changing out a manual one. Replacing your toothbrush head every three months is recommended, but keep in mind patients with periodontal disease or other illnesses may need to replace them more frequently. Your electric toothbrush handle will likely need to be replaced every 3-5 years. This is mostly because of the lifespan of the rechargeable battery, but without proper cleaning, replacement may be needed sooner. Some people even use an automated mail-order system to ship them new replacement heads every 3-4 months as a reminder to change them out.

Where You Store Your Toothbrush Is Important

Once you have cleaned and disinfected your toothbrush, you need to keep in mind where you store it. The most common place to keep your toothbrush is in the bathroom. But where in the bathroom you store it can make all the difference in how clean your brush actually is and what bacteria may be living on it. Although shutting the toilet lid may help, keeping your toothbrush at least 6 feet away from the toilet is very important. Studies have shown that 60% of toothbrushes kept in the bathroom have faecal matter on them!

Air circulation is also essential to keep your toothbrush clean. Bacteria thrive in moist environments. Make sure your brush is stored upright and not touching other toothbrushes. You want your brush to be able to air dry completely and not retain any moisture. Although keeping your toothbrush in the shower is also a popular option, leaving the door or curtain open is essential to allowing your toothbrush bristles to dry fully.

Although toothbrush covers sound like a great way to keep harmful bacteria from landing on your toothbrush, when a cover is placed on the brush immediately after use, the cover actually traps all the moisture and bacteria onto the brush. This creates the perfect breeding ground for that bacteria to multiply.

You Can Be the Healthiest Version of YOU!

Hawthorn Road Family Dental in Caulfield North wants you to have the best oral health possible. Contact our office today to schedule your preventative care appointment to ensure you keep your smile for a lifetime.

Dr. Mahima Krongold

Dr. Mahima Krongold

Dr Krongold has been practicing dentistry for over twenty years. She has background experience dealing with a diverse range of dental issues, which vary significantly from individual to individual. Her experience has been built upon by her endless thirst for practical and technological advancement in the field of crowns, implants, bridge work, root canals, endodontics, teeth whitening and cosmetic work. Dr Krongold is a family dentist with three children. Children's dentistry is a specialised area for her, particularly encompassing oral hygiene and dental comfort.

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