How Often Should You Replace Your Toothbrush?

Published:April 12th, 2012

© Krisztian PinterCongratulations if you are vigilant over your oral health, and give yourself a pat on the back if you visit your dentist at regular intervals, but are you replacing your toothbrush often enough? This one is surprisingly easy to overlook, but if the bristles on your brush are splayed out then it’s time to give it a decent burial and bring on a nice, clean replacement.

Most people need to replace their toothbrush every two or three months, but this can vary a lot, and if it starts looking worn before this time then you’ll need to replace it sooner. It’s a great idea to replace it if you’ve been ill recently, and if you have a weakened immune system or suffer from diabetes then you should be vigilant about replacing it at frequent intervals. This is because bacteria love to live on your toothbrush. Researchers have found there could be up to 100 million bacteria calling your toothbrush ‘home’ and these bacteria are responsible for causing skin infections and diarrhoea.

This is a pretty nasty thing to think about, and the numbers sound dramatic, but there are millions of bacteria who live in your mouth all the time. Every time you brush your teeth you are removing some of these bacteria. In spite of the huge numbers of bacteria involved, most of us won’t become ill from our toothbrush, and it’s pretty simple to keep it hygienic.

Simple tips include:

  • Rinsing thoroughly after each use, and using running tap water to make sure all food debris is washed away. After you’ve rinsed it try to get as much excess water out by giving it a good shake.
  • Place it upright to dry, as this will allow the air to circulate around the toothbrush more freely. This is a great way to prevent bacteria from multiplying, as they just love a moist toothbrush. It’s not a good idea to use a toothbrush cover which holds in moisture.
  • Keeping your brush for your exclusive use; sharing your toothbrush with anyone else is a great way to swap germs, especially as it’s unlikely to try out thoroughly between uses.
  • Store your brush as far away from your toilet as you can, as every time you flush it forces a plume of bacteria up into the air. This can often be tricky, but putting the seat down before flushing helps a lot.

Are there any other ways to clean a toothbrush?

There are various toothbrush sanitisers for sale which use various methods including sprays, rinses and ultraviolet light to kill bacteria. These products probably do as they say, but there’s no real evidence they’ll prevent you from becoming sick.

Other popular methods of sanitising toothbrushes include popping them in the microwave or sticking them through the dishwasher. Neither of these methods is recommended as they’re more likely to damage the toothbrush and make it less effective at removing bacteria.

Basically, if you store your brush correctly, don’t share it with anyone else, and above all replace it regularly, then you should be fine.

About the author

Alison, is a UK born and educated dental professional with over 25 years experience.

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