Why Is it Important to Replace My Toothbrush?

July 27, 2021 | Dental Blog,General Dentist

You might think that you are taking proper care of your dental health if you are brushing your teeth at least twice per day. If you’re overdue to replace your toothbrush, however, brushing your teeth might not be as effective as you think. If you don’t replace your toothbrush often enough, you may be getting an ineffective cleaning – exposing you to risks such as germs and bacteria building up in your mouth and related dental health problems.

What Happens if I Don’t Change My Toothbrush Often Enough?

Dentists and the American Dental Association (ADA) stress the importance of regularly replacing your toothbrush for maximum effectiveness. This is because the toothbrush will decrease in efficacy as the bristles wear down. It can also pose risks related to bacteria collection on the bristles. The ADA recommends replacing your toothbrush every three to four months, or more often if there are visible signs of wear and tear. 

The bristles of a toothbrush act like a sponge. Every time you brush your teeth, the bristles absorb bacteria and microorganisms from your teeth and mouth. The more you use your toothbrush, the more germs it will collect. If you don’t replace your toothbrush at least every three to four months, you are putting yourself at risk of germs spreading infections in your mouth.

Allowing your toothbrush bristles to wear down also decreases the effectiveness of the device. The bristles are expertly designed to clean the surface of the teeth, in between the teeth and the gums. If you allow the bristles to wear down, it will not effectively remove bacteria and food debris that has collected around your gum line. A less effective brush can increase your risk of related dental problems, including tooth decay and cavities.

What Are Signs That I Should Replace My Toothbrush?

The ADA states that both a standard toothbrush and an electric toothbrush can clean the teeth effectively when used correctly. You may need to replace the head on an electric toothbrush more often, however, due to its shorter bristles. Keep an eye on your toothbrush, no matter which type you have, for signs that it is time for a replacement:

  • The bristles are frayed, matted or broken down
  • The bristles have fanned out
  • The bristles have changed color (dark color can mean mold)
  • You’ve had a cold or illness
  • Someone else has used your toothbrush
  • You can’t remember the last time you replaced it

When in doubt, replace your toothbrush. It can be well worth the money for a better, more effective tooth and gum cleaning. You need your toothbrush to operate at full capacity to rid your mouth of dangerous bacteria, fight plaque and gingivitis, and prevent dental hygiene problems. The amount of money you could spend in treating a dental problem can far exceed the cost of a new toothbrush every three months.

Which Toothbrush Should I Buy?

The ADA recommends using a toothbrush with soft bristles to protect the enamel on your teeth. Choose a toothbrush head size that only covers one or two teeth at a time. The choice between a standard and electric toothbrush is a personal one; however, some studies have shown electric toothbrushes to be more effective at cleaning the gums and preventing tooth decay. A dentist can recommend a toothbrush for you based on your specific needs. Rinse your toothbrush with water after each use and store it in an upright position in the open air. 

Stay on Top of Your Dental Hygiene

Brushing your teeth, replacing your toothbrush often and flossing regularly are only three parts of a complete oral care regimen. You should also get professional cleanings at least twice per year. Schedule a routine cleaning with a Phoenix family dentist to stay on top of your oral health and prevent serious issues, such as tooth decay.