5 Signs It's Time to Buy a New Toothbrush

We all know the signs that it’s time to head to the grocery store for more food: Your stomach is rumbling, your pantry is bare, and you fridge is home to nothing more than a rotting tomato and some ancient takeout. But fewer people know how to recognize when it’s time to go to the store for a new toothbrush.

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Why replace your toothbrush in the first place? Because over time, toothbrushes become breeding grounds for all kinds of bacteria and germs. Additionally, research suggests newer toothbrushes can remove plaque more effectively than those that are past their prime. This means replacing your toothbrush on a regular basis is important for maintaining oral health.

As a general rule of thumb, most dentists agree you should replace your toothbrush approximately every three months. But certain situations may speed up that timeline. Here are some signs it’s time to break up with your existing toothbrush and bring home a new one.

The bristles are frayed, bent, falling out, unusually stiff, or otherwise worn.

If your toothbrush’s bristles can no longer stand up straight, that’s a surefire sign it’s time to buy a new brush. Bent, frayed, or excessively worn bristles simply aren’t going to be as effective at removing plaque and other particles from your teeth compared to bristles that are in better shape.

One other note here: If your toothbrush’s bristles are mashed or bent, this may be a sign that you’re brushing too hard. Aggressive tooth brushing can backfire by damaging your teeth’s enamel, so brush up on a healthier technique here.

You’ve been sick.

While it’s important to keep up your tooth brushing routine while you’re sick, this also means your toothbrush will be exposed to all the extra germs floating around in your mouth. To avoid reintroducing those germs into your mouth after you’ve recovered, it’s a good idea to purchase a new toothbrush whenever your illness breaks.

You’ve been storing your toothbrush in a travel container.

While travel containers are great for, well, travel, they’re not so great for the health of your toothbrush. That’s because they create a warm, moist environment that makes it difficult for your toothbrush to dry out. And when your toothbrush stays moist, bacteria thrive.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to replace your toothbrush after you’ve been traveling (or any time you store your toothbrush in a travel container for more than a day).

Your toothbrush touched somebody else’s toothbrush.

No matter how well you store your toothbrush, it’s still going to harbor bacteria in between brushings. Same goes for everyone else’s toothbrush.

This means if your toothbrush comes in contact with somebody else’s, it’s liable to pick up some of the germs from that neighboring toothbrush. While this might not be consequential, in some cases the introduction of foreign bacteria into your mouth could provoke illness. Better to be safe than sorry.

You’ve dropped the toothbrush.

Even if your toothbrush lands somewhere it shouldn’t for just a few seconds, that’s enough time for it to pick up all sorts of nasty bacteria. No matter whether you drop your toothbrush on the floor, in the sink, or anywhere else, it’s time to replace it right away.

One other sign that it’s time to buy a new toothbrush? You can’t remember the last time you did. Replacing your toothbrush on a regular basis (at least every three months) is one of the best ways to ensure it does its job to the best of its abilities.