Over 75% of us don't replace our toothbrush head every three months like our dentist recommends, and it's much more than just a hygiene problem (some might not even bother to know when to replace their toothbrush). We get it! It doesn't matter how often we see the faded blue bristles, family calendar reminders, or blinking toothbrush warning lights — the second we put that brush down, we forget. Still, replacing your toothbrush is crucial to ensure clean and healthy teeth, and here are the three main reasons why:
Worn heads damage gums
When brushes are made, the nylon bristles are first cut to the same height, leaving sharp, jagged edges. The end of each bristle is then rounded into a soft dome to make them less abrasive and ensure they don't scrape away enamel or gum tissue.
As you brush, the bristles return to their original jaggedness, which can cause gum recession and wear away enamel, according to Dr. Mark Burhenne, quip’s Chief Dental Advisor and founder of AskTheDentist.com.
This is why it is recommended to replace them every three months, or when you see signs of wear. (If you do see wear before three months, take our hard brusher quiz to learn if you should soften up on your technique.)
Germs are a-plenty
This may seem like the obvious one, but it shouldn't be ignored. The American Dental Association recommends changing your brush head every three months to prevent bacteria from building up in the bristles, affecting your oral health and general well-being.
A bathroom can be a hotbed for bacteria, particularly if you are prone to bad habits such as flushing the toilet with the seat pan up.
Worn bristles don't clean
Here's the big one: a worn-out brush just doesn’t clean your teeth well, leading to cavities and other damaging side effects! The splayed bristles bend away from teeth while brushing, stopping their fine tips from reaching between teeth and gums, therefore hindering the core reason for brushing.
Dr. Burhenne recommends setting a reminder on your phone’s calendar to replace your brush, or joining a service that automatically delivers you a brush head every three months like quip. So when your new head arrives in the mail, you have no more excuses not to change it out right there and then.
Whether you use a regular toothbrush or an electric toothbrush, there are ways you can make it last the entire three months, namely:
Keep it light. Don't apply too much pressure when brushing. Instead, rely on short, repetitive back and forth motions to clean your teeth and remove food particles. If you apply too much pressure, the brush's bristles could strip away the tooth's enamel, the protective and strongest layer.
Rinse your bristles. Before storing away your toothbrush, make sure there isn't any residue, like excess bubbles and toothpaste, left on the brush's bristles. A proper rinse minimizes harmful bacteria that could lead to contamination.
Shake off excess moisture. Ideally, you want your toothbrush dry after use, but the process doesn't happen instantly. The next best thing? Shake things up to help eliminate excess moisture. Wet toothbrushes can cultivate harmful bacteria, which can cause other oral problems, such as tooth decay, strep throat, and gum disease.
One final tip
Regularly replacing your toothbrush is essential for good oral health. If you keep brushing with an overused toothbrush, you not only have to worry about problems in your mouth, but you could also compromise your overall health. Now that you understand when you are supposed to change your toothbrush (aka every three months), make it a habit!