How Often Should You Really Change Your Toothbrush?

Your toothbrush is a lot more important than you might initially think.

This day to day essential may blend into the background of most of our lives but according to a 2003 study over a third of us consider it the one invention we couldn’t live without beating out the car, microwave and even your phone!

Even though the first bristle toothbrush was invented back in 1780 we have been brushing our teeth for thousands of years. Even the earliest human civilisations have been found to use tree twigs, feather and animal bones to clean between teeth and dislodge stubborn pieces of food that may have been stuck there.

The first electric toothbrush didn’t make an appearance until the 1950s and wasn’t just to make brushing easier on the user. Electric brushes have an additional axis of movement that allows for a more thorough brush in the same amount of time. It also allows those with more limited movement in their hands to get a thorough clean too.

When it comes to choice, most people now have access to 3 main types of toothbrush to choose from:

Standard Toothbrush

Bristles on a stick! This brush is something most of us have a version of somewhere, whether hiding in a suitcase, in a cupboard or on the bathroom sink. This manual instrument can provide a thorough clean as long as you use the right technique to clean all the tooth surfaces and gums. This is harder than it seems and most people struggle to brush in just the right way.

Environmental brushes also tend to fall into this category, often made from biodegradable and non-plastic elements such as bamboo or wood.

Electric Toothbrush

The modern way of brushing. Most electric brushes feature an oscillating head that provides a greater range of movement and cleaning power than that of a manual brush. They require less movement and range of motion compared to a manual brush, as the rotating head does most of the work.

Disposable Toothbrush

Often these brushes are designed for single-use and thrown away. Placed in the mouth and chewed on with a special toothpaste compound they are ideal for the person on the go trying to maintain their oral health.

Regardless of your brush, the advice for replacing is the same. Through use the bristles of a brush will start to fray and loosen giving you less effective area for cleaning of the tooth surface. You will notice this as the bristles start to “round over” on the tooth brush, a sure sign you need a new brush.

Secondly as you use a brush you are removing bacteria and plaque build-up from your mouth. Over time, despite your best efforts this bacteria will accumulate on the brush and bristles as well. Rinsing your brush after every session will help to minimise this but your brush will become a bacteria playground after a certain amount of time.

As a rule you should aim to replace your tooth brush every 3 or 4 months or earlier if you notice your tooth brush starting to look a little worse for wear. For electric brushes just change the replaceable heads!

Should you find yourself ill, it is also a good idea to change a brush after you recover too. Any bugs that infected you will remain on the brush so could have a chance to reinfect you once you recover the first time. Some people claim you can disinfect your brush, but the evidence is limited so it is better to not take the chance.

At the end of the day, brushing with an older brush twice a day is still better than not brushing at all so make sure you keep up regular brushing in order to maintain your oral health. Just remember, all your hard work can be wasted if the brush you are using is past its best!

Page last updated: 07 Oct 2020  12:03PM