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Clarkson Dental Group
1748 Clarkson Rd, Chesterfield, MO 63017
Toothbrush care tips, Clarkson Dental Group

How Often Should You Replace a Toothbrush?

September 14, 2021
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Posted By: Dr. Scott Mahlin
Teeth cleaning in Chesterfield, MO

Studies have shown that only 2 out of 5 people routinely replace their toothbrushes as recommended.  Using a toothbrush head for too long reduces its effectiveness and may cause harm to your teeth and mouth.  Replacing your toothbrush ensures the bristles can properly clean your teeth and supporting gum tissues.  

Manual Toothbrush Heads (non-electric)

The American Dental Associated recommends toothbrushes be replaced every 3-4 months.  This is based on the recommended 2 minutes of usage twice a day.   Worn toothbrush bristles will decrease the ability to properly remove plaque from your teeth and gum tissues.  The accumulation of plaques may lead to harmful gum and tooth problems to include cavities and/or periodontal disease.  

Electric Toothbrush Heads

It is recommended you replace your electric toothbrush head every 3 months.  An easy reminder system has been created by Philips Sonicare utilizing its BrushSync technology.  The convenience of BrushSync is built into the brush head with an RFID microchip.  It reminds the user when it is time to replace the brush head with an LED on the toothbrush handle.  It tracks the amount of time you are using the toothbrush, the pressure you apply while brushing, and your personal brushing style.  If you and your dentist determine brushing 3 times daily vs. 2 times daily, then your toothbrush head replacement alert will occur sooner.  The toothbrush handle can track multiple brush heads.  

What else to consider when replacing my toothbrush?

  • If the ends of your bristles are bent or are frayed, it could be a sign you are brushing too vigorously and/or too often
  • The toothbrush has a bad smell or is miscolored
  • You cannot remember the last time you replaced your toothbrush
  • You were recently sick
  • Your teeth still don’t feel clean after you brush

Should I change my toothbrush head after I’ve been sick?

It is common practice to replace your toothbrush or toothbrush head after an infection, flu, or cold.  You may fear becoming sick again from the same illness if you use the same toothbrush you used while you were sick.  Our immune systems produce antibodies from germs to protect ourselves while we are sick.  If these same germs enter our bodies again, our immune system will be ready.  These antibodies prevent us from becoming reinfected by the same bacteria or virus twice.  Although, you may become sick with different germs that are lingering on your toothbrush because your immune system is still recovering from your previous sickness.  


How should I care for my toothbrush?

After you are finished brushing, thoroughly rinse off your toothbrush with water, shake it off, dry it, and place it in the upright position to allow it to thoroughly dry.  It is a good idea to also use an over-the-counter mouth rinse to ensure minimal bacterial presence.  Also, never share toothbrushes with anyone because lingering germs can be shared between users.  To further minimize bacterial growth, it is recommended to allow your toothbrush to dry and not place a cover on it as this will encourage bacterial growth.  

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