Just as it’s important to brush your teeth regularly, it’s just as essential to know when it’s time to dispose of your toothbrush. It’s a good rule of thumb to replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months, but other circumstances may result in needing a toothbrush switch sooner.
Here are a few signs your toothbrush needs to be replaced:
1. Your Toothbrush Has Bent Bristles
Bent bristles are a tell-tale indicator that it is time for a new toothbrush. Worn and flaring bristles show the brush is suffering from overuse and should be discarded. Pay close attention to your toothbrush if you have braces or are monitoring your child’s brushing habits, as these damage bristles more quickly.
2. You've Been Sick
Whether you had the flu or suffered a small cold, once you’ve recovered from an illness you might want to invest in new toothbrush. When you’re ill, bacteria spread everywhere - even to the bristles in your toothbrush. Using the same toothbrush after you’ve been sick may cause reinfection, so consider using a fresh toothbrush to avoid accidentally prolonging the illness.
3. You Dropped It
If your toothbrush falls on the floor, you may be tempted to give it a good rinse instead of replacing it. However, the bathroom contains an alarming amount of germs even outside the toilet, and you’re better off starting fresh than reusing a brush that’s been exposed to harmful bacteria.
4. Your Toothbrush Touched Someone Else’s
Keeping your toothbrush separate from anyone else’s is an important tip if you’re sharing a living space. If your toothbrush bumps against your significant other’s, you’re probably in the clear but if it comes in contact with that of your roommate’s you’ll want to toss it as you’ll be introducing new germs that could make you sick.
5. Your Pet Made Contact With It
We all love our furry family members, but any pet owner will tell you that cleanliness is not one of their better qualities. Cats in particular are guilty of jumping on counters and playing with things they shouldn’t, so why would your toothbrush be any different? Store your toothbrush somewhere pets can’t easily access it; if they do manage to find a way be sure to replace your toothbrush. Sharing love with animals is adorable, but sharing germs? Not so much.
Making sure your dental tools remain clean is a key part of maintaining your oral hygiene. These signs, along with the 3-4 month rule, are safe guidelines to care for your toothbrush and ensure it's always in 'mint' condition. And remember: when in doubt, throw it out!