How often should you change your toothbrush?

By Dr. Mohamed Abdel Hamid

“It is advisable to replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months and sometimes even sooner if it shows signs of fraying or if you have recently suffered with an illness”.

Dr. Mohamed Abdel Hamid

Your toothbrush is your main weapon in the fight against decay and gum disease. It is the one tool you simply cannot live without when it comes to dental hygiene. But as with any dental hygiene product, your toothbrush has an expiration date, and you cannot keep using it forever, or else you would risk some serious problems.

Brush Wear

“Another very important reason for replacing the toothbrush is its material. Most modern toothbrushes are made of Nylon fibers, designed to scrape the teeth and gums to clean them. By repeated use, Nylon loses its hardness and shape, and as a result, the toothbrush becomes frayed and bristled. This leads to not only decreased effectiveness of cleaning and therefore a higher risk of decay, but also the frayed parts can physically damage the gums and teeth, resulting in gingival inflammation and sometimes even sores and ulcers”.

Dr. Mohamed Abdel Hamid

Toothbrush wear

4 reasons you should change your toothbrush now.

Apart from the obvious wear and tear on the toothbrush bristles, there are other reasons for replacing your toothbrush.

  • Your mouth is literally a playground for bacteria and fungi, and when you brush your teeth and scrape your tongue and gums, some of these bacteria and fungi stick to the brush, and along with the food remnants scraped from the teeth, these bacteria would grow and thrive inside the toothbrush, and by time they could cause diseases not only to the gums and teeth but to the stomach and digestive system as well.
  • Some dentists would also advise that if you suffered a serious illness that is highly contagious (For example Mumps or Measles), you should replace the toothbrush after you recovered, to decrease the risk that you or any member of your family may encounter that illness again.
  • If someone has borrowed your toothbrush to clean their teeth it would be advisable to replace it immediately. If you share a toothbrush, you are also sharing the germs that have been left on the brush bristles. Brushing teeth sometimes causes the gums to bleed, which exposes everyone who shares a toothbrush to potentially serious blood borne diseases.
  • The final reason for replacing the toothbrush is the fact that it is almost always kept in the bathroom, which is a damp, moist and contaminated environment, and this environment would accelerate the growth of bacteria that are on the brush and the risk of disease increases even more.

“Dipping your toothbrush in a capful of antiseptic mouthwash can be beneficial in reducing bacterial contamination on the toothbrush bristles”.

Dr. Mohamed Abdel Hamid

How to look after your toothbrush.

So until you replace the toothbrush, here are some pieces of advice on how to maintain a healthy toothbrush:

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Unless advised by your dentist, always use a medium bristled straight toothbrush, as soft brushes are not as effective and hard brushes could cause injury with careless use.

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Always wash out the toothbrush with hot or warm water, or better yet, dip it in mouthwash for a few seconds before use.

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When not using the brush, dry it out carefully and try to keep it in a non-moist environment, or at least use a toothbrush cover to keep it clean and dry.

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Never share a toothbrush, to avoid transmitting bacteria from one mouth to the other.

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Never use your toothbrush for anything other than cleaning your teeth.

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If you use an electric toothbrush, you should also replace the head every few months or as recommended by your dentist or the manufacturer.

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Avoid using too much pressure when using the brush, as this not only damages the teeth and gums but also decreases the lifespan of the brush.

Dr. Mohamed Abdel Hamid

Dr. Mohamed Abdel Hamid

BDS, MFDS RCSEd, Member of AACD

Dr. Mohamed Abdel Hamid is a practicing dentist, the founder and owner of Confidental clinic in Cairo.