When do I change my toothbrush?

While it may be easy to know when to replace your scuffed up shoes or faded blue jeans, knowing when to change your toothbrush isn’t always obvious. It often depends upon usage and your overall health.

new toothbrush


By now, most of us know to brush our teeth twice daily for two minutes and floss every day for a clean, fresh and cavity-free smile. If you’re brushing correctly, that toothbrush will get a lot of use. Over time, the bristles will begin to breakdown and lose its effectiveness.

The ADA recommends replacing your toothbrush every three to four months, even sooner if the bristles become frayed and tattered. Studies show that after three months of normal wear and tear, toothbrushes are much less effective at removing plaque from teeth and gums compared to new ones. With frayed bristles, they just can’t get to those awkward corners around your teeth anymore. Children tend to brush more vigorously, so they may need a new toothbrush even more often.

Cleaning and storing your toothbrush

In most cases, you won’t need anything fancy to clean your toothbrush. The American Dental Association recommends just rinsing it under tap water after each brushing to wash away remaining toothpaste, debris and saliva. Then, store it in a vertical position so the bristles can air dry, ideally away from other toothbrushes to reduce spreading bacteria.

Do I need to disinfect my toothbrush?

It’s true that bacteria and microorganisms can grow on toothbrushes after use. But, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), researchers have found little connection between bacteria growth and adverse oral health issues. Further, there is no clinical evidence that soaking a toothbrush in antibacterial rinses or using a special sanitizer has any positive or negative effect on oral or systemic health. Additionally, the CDC advises against using a dishwasher, ultraviolet sanitizing devices or microwave ovens to disinfect or “sanitize” your toothbrush. These devices do little to improve the performance of a toothbrush, and often do nothing more than damage the bristles.

Just follow a few, common-sense tips to maintain your toothbrush:

  • Don’t share your toothbrush. Sharing a toothbrush introduces unwanted risk for infection—a particular concern for anyone with a compromised immune system.
  • Keep your toothbrush holder clean. Simply wipe it down with a gentle cleaner or run it through the dishwasher.
  • Don’t store your toothbrush in a closed container. Bacteria tends to grow in dark, warm and moist places, so it’s best to store toothbrushes in an open container to air dry.
  • Protect your toothbrush while traveling. A plastic case will shield bristles from getting squashed in your travel kit. Just be sure it’s clean and dry before placing it in the closed container.

For more great oral health tips, talk to your hygienist or Dr. Chen at Pine Lake Family Dentistry. Call us today for your next appointment.

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