Do You Really Need To Replace Your Toothbrush Every 3 Months?

Do You Really Need To Replace Your Toothbrush Every 3 Months?

 Whitney DiFoggio BS, RDH
Written by Whitney DiFoggio BS, RDH
Medical Reviewed on Oct 18, 2023
byDr. Matthew Hannan DDS
Do You Really Need To Replace Your Toothbrush Every 3 Months?

Believe it or not, people don’t always make the right choice when it comes to how often to replace toothbrushes. So, how often should you replace your toothbrush?

Although there are a few different reasons why you should be throwing out your toothbrush, the general rule of thumb is to replace your toothbrush at least every 3 months. And yes, that includes the head of electric brushes too!

That’s four times a year. Or one per season. You can have one for Spring, Summer, Fall (which just happens to be my favorite) and Winter. Whatever it takes to remember, change your brush out at least every three months.

So what other reasons are there for needing to replace a toothbrush?

When To Replace Toothbrush

1. Replace It When Bristles Are Splayed

Take a peek at your toothbrush. Are the bristles all splayed out in different directions? Does the brush look flattened, like you’ve been scrubbing it up against a brick wall?

Chances are, you’re scrubbing your teeth way too hard. All that extra pressure is making the bristles splay out in every which way. If how often you replace a toothbrush is more than every three months, you’re probably brushing way too hard.

When bristles are splayed out, they can’t clean your teeth effectively. So, lighten up on your grip, lessen your pressure, and let the bristle tips do their job like they’re designed to!

Side note: You shouldn’t be putting any extra pressure on your teeth than what might cause your gums to gently blanch. Overzealous tooth brushing can lead to serious issues like gum recession and worn-off enamel! How often you’re replacing toothbrush heads can be thrown off if you’re brushing too hard.

2. Germs On Bristles

There are all sorts of tips and tricks out there to “sterilize” your toothbrush. But the truth is, germs get way down in those little bristles, especially at the base (and let’s not talk about the microbes that float around your bathroom, but that’s an entirely different topic!)

Even if you clean your toothbrush routinely, it is important to keep up with replacing your toothbrush or toothbrush heads. They just get plain yucky.

This pertains to your electric toothbrush heads too. If it helps, sign up for an auto-ship with Amazon or set a reminder on your phone so that you don’t forget.

You may not be able to see the germs, but they’re there. If you have a special UV light that’s built into your electric toothbrush head, you still need to change them out because, at a certain point, those biofilm layers will be too thick to penetrate.

3. Change Your Toothbrush After Being Sick

One of the first things you need to know about germs on your toothbrush is that if you’re sick, you’re going to keep re-infecting yourself with bacteria, even if you’re starting to feel better.

Throw. It. Away.

It’s not worth it to keep putting those germs back inside your mouth, making your immune system work over and over again.

Toss the toothbrush. Especially if it’s something you’re being treated with antibiotics for. Usually, the rule of thumb is to throw it away after a day or two of starting your prescription.

This can be super sad to do, especially if we’re talking about your favorite toothbrush or an electric toothbrush head. But getting sick all over again just isn’t worth it.

Why It’s Important!?

Your toothbrush has specially designed bristles to clean your teeth. If they’re dirty or worn out, your brush can’t do its job. That goes for manual and electric toothbrushes.

So, as soon as you visibly start to see your toothbrush looking old or gunky, you can know that on a microscopic level, it’s even worse.

Even if you’re cleaning your brush with DIY methods, you’re still not getting all of these bacteria down in the tufts where the bristles connect to the brush.

So, the best thing to do? Toss it. How often? The experts all say every 3 months.

Keep Your Toothbrushes Fresh!

Don’t take a chance at spreading germs around and don’t use toothbrush bristles that are worn out. If you really want your mouth to be clean of bacteria — and that’s the whole point of brushing — throw your brush or brush head away and get a new one.

Manual and electric toothbrushes alike need to be changed out every three months.

Don’t risk the germs. That’s what the evidence says. Even if your dentist only gives you a new toothbrush every six months, you can splurge on one twice per year for the halfway points between your checkup.

Lots of people only replace their toothbrush every 6 months (when they get a new one at the dentist) or they wait until the bristles are splayed! Let me tell you the reasons you need to change it out more frequently... and that goes for both manual toothbrushes and electric toothbrushes!

 Whitney DiFoggio BS, RDH
Written by Whitney DiFoggio BS, RDH"Teeth Talk Girl," is a registered dental hygienist. She started her dental health journey on YouTube, educating the public through videos.
Dr. Matthew  Hannan DDS
Medical Reviewed byDr. Matthew Hannan DDSDr. Matthew Hannan is a board-certified dentist and graduate of UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry.
Last updated onOctober 18, 2023Here is our process

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