Mind & Body

This Is How Often You Should Replace Your Toothbrush

It's not a great sign if you don't remember the last time you replaced your toothbrush. But we're not here to shame you; we're here to help you. Just a heads-up: You'll probably be pitching your current toothbrush before you finish reading this article.

Trash Your Toothbrush

Brushing your teeth has likely become a Pavlovian activity for you. Wake up, brush; get ready for bed, brush. You owe it to yourself to keep a closer eye on your teeth cleaning routine. Namely, the status of your toothbrush. If your brush isn't clean, how can you expect it to polish your ivories effectively? According to the American Dental Association (ADA), you should swap out your toothbrush (or electric toothbrush head) every three to four months. That is, if you use it twice a day, which we hope you do. Think about your toothbrush as a seasonal item.

Dentist Keith Arbeitman tells Business Insider another key clue that your toothbrush needs to head to the trash: "Once the bristles start to bend, you're not really cleaning as effectively." Arbeitman also recommends just occasionally running your tongue across your teeth. If you don't feel like your pearly whites are as slippery as usual, your brush probably isn't doing the trick anymore.

Please Stand Up

You might think this seems all a little ridiculous. Three months is not a very long time, after all. What's the worst that could happen if you ignore our advice? Some pretty nasty crap could get in those bristles. Literally. According to a 2015 study, toothbrushes in communal bathrooms can become contaminated with fecal matter. Having your toothbrush around other people's contaminants is a dangerous thing, according to Lauren Aber, MHS, one of the study's authors. Surprisingly, this isn't such a big deal when you live alone. The trouble happens when the fecal matter is from someone else because it "contains bacteria, viruses or parasites that are not part of your normal flora."

The most logical solution is a toothbrush cover, right? Well, they aren't actually all that helpful. "Using a toothbrush cover doesn't protect a toothbrush from bacterial growth, but actually creates an environment where bacteria are better suited to grow by keeping the bristles moist and not allowing the head of the toothbrush to dry out between uses," Aber said. A 2007 study confirms this. Besides regular replacing, a good way to protect your uncovered toothbrush from unwanted germs is easy: Just stand it upright. "If you stand a toothbrush up and let it dry between uses," Arbeitman told Business Insider, "the bacteria are pretty much going to die."

Get stories like this one in your inbox or your headphones: sign up for our daily email and subscribe to the Curiosity Daily podcast.

For more answers to your cleaning questions, check out "My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag . . . and Other Things You Can't Ask Martha" by Jolie Kerr. We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase through that link, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Written by Joanie Faletto February 8, 2018

Curiosity uses cookies to improve site performance, for analytics and for advertising. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies, our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.