Your toothbrush is one personal care item that you should definitely replace on a regular basis. When you consider the fact that our mouth is home to over 700 species of microbes and germs (like roughly six billion different bacteria), is it any wonder that you should be changing your toothbrush on a regular basis?

Our oral microbiome is the second largest and most diverse after our gut microbiome. And while some types of bacteria that live in our mouth are good, and help us when it comes to digestion, cleanliness, fresh breath, and more, the other bacteria aren’t quite so helpful, and your toothbrush can easily get loaded with millions of germs, which is why knowing when to change it is important for your health.

If You Use A Manual Toothbrush

According to the American Dental Association it is recommended that we change our manual toothbrush every three to four months— but definitely not exceeding past six months.

As a rule, everyone should replace their toothbrush at a minimum of every six months, according to the dentists we spoke to. We use our toothbrush twice a day to literally brush bacteria off of our teeth, and any germs can stick around even after you’ve rinsed off post-brush.

Furthermore, worn out toothbrushes aren’t able to remove plaque as well, so changing to a new brush is important.

If You Use An Electric Toothbrush 

Electric toothbrush heads need to be replaced even sooner. With electric toothbrushes, the time is typically shorter, about one to two months, simply because they work by vibrating at high speeds, and the brush heads just don’t last as long as standard toothbrushes.

When Else Do I Need To Switch To A New Brush?

If you have been sick with a cold, flu, or other virus or infection, it’s important to throw out your toothbrush and grab a new one right away once you’ve recovered—even if you’re nowhere near the three-to-four-month mark.

Toothbrush Care Tips

While washing or disinfecting your toothbrush won’t necessarily make it last longer, since the bristles will still get worn down with use, you should still keep it clean. So for every maintenance, the best step is to run it under hot water before and after use, and you can disinfect it by filling a small cup with an antibacterial mouthwash and soaking your toothbrush inside, stirring it in the solution for about 30 seconds.

Here are a few ways to care for your toothbrush that will help it work more effectively, although you will still have to replace it regularly

  • Let your toothbrush air-dry after each use (bacteria and fungus love wet environments), and store it in an upright position
  • Never, ever share your toothbrushes
  • If more than one brush is stored in the same holder, space them apart so they don’t touch each other. 
  • Avoid storing toothbrushes in closed containers, or using toothbrush covers. This can cause bacteria to grow