How Often Should You Change Your Toothbrush?

Many people know that to need to change toothbrushes when they are near the end of their lifespan. However, you might be surprised to find out that you are probably using your toothbrush a lot longer than recommended.


So how long is too long, and what effects can using an old toothbrush have on your oral health? Take a look below:

How often should you replace your manual toothbrush?


As your toothbrush is an essential tool to keep your teeth and gums healthy, it’s vital to have clean and straight bristles to maximize its effectiveness. It’s recommended that you brush your teeth for two minutes twice per day to protect against cavities, gum disease, and bad breath.


If you brush your teeth for the recommended amount per day, it is likely your toothbrush will start to see a decline within three months. The Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) advises you to replace a toothbrush every 3-4 months. You will also find manufacturers offer guidance on when to replace your toothbrush.


If the bristles on your toothbrush lose stiffness, then this will impact how well they brush your teeth.

How often should you replace your electric toothbrush heads?

 Electric Toothbrush Heads

Electric toothbrushes work by cleaning the surface of the teeth and gums with a rotating or vibrating brush head. These types of toothbrushes typically have shorter bristles, which can fray more easily over time. Many dental professionals recommend changing the brush heads every 12 weeks to ensure good oral health.


Power toothbrushes also need to be changed regularly to ensure they have optimum brushing power. Some toothbrushes will also have extra features such as pressure sensors and a built-in timer to assist your brushing technique.

Other factors that may affect your toothbrush lifespan


While the soft bristles and fraying will be the primary reason to replace your toothbrush or brush heads, other factors can also contribute, including:

Viral and bacterial infections


If you have a throat or oral infection such as strep throat, it is generally a good idea to change your toothbrush. This is due to your toothbrush potentially harboring the infection and causing more issues or a longer recovery period due to potential reinfection.

Children’s toothbrushes


Young children may need to change toothbrushes more frequently because if they are chewing surfaces on the brush, such as the bristles, it will damage them more quickly.

Someone else uses your toothbrush


Toothbrushes are very personal items. If someone uses yours, there is the potential to spread infections from person to person. To be on the safe side, replace the toothbrush if another person has used it.

How to take care of your toothbrush


There’s nothing too complicated about how to look after your toothbrush. However, there are a few main things to do to ensure you don’t need to change it more frequently than usual. These include:


  • Don’t share your toothbrush with anyone else, and that includes members of your family.
  • If you store toothbrushes in a cup or holder, try to avoid bristles touching each other.
  • Rinse toothbrushes thoroughly after use with water. You don’t have to use any cleaning products on them.
  • Avoid using closed containers to store toothbrushes in, as this can encourage the growth of bacteria and germs. However, cases are useful for storing during travel as this protects the bristles.

What can happen if you don’t change your toothbrush when needed?


As mentioned above, the main reason to change your toothbrush is due to the bristles being weaker. If you decide to continue use way past this point, the effectiveness of the brush also reduces. A study suggested that individuals experienced more plaque build-up when a toothbrush was used for more than 40 consecutive days.


Other studies have highlighted the same issues, so if you are using it past its lifespan, there is more likely to be reduced dental care over time and potential tooth decay problems.

Should you use an electric toothbrush instead of a manual brush?


According to the American Dental Association, both electric and manual toothbrushes are effective for removing plaque that causes oral disease and decay. However, a review has suggested that electric toothbrushes may be more effective than manual brushing. The main takeaway is that whatever toothbrush you choose, the vital aspect of good oral hygiene is daily brushing habits.


Both toothbrushes will have signs of wear and tear after everyday use, so it’s vital to change as per the recommended advice. Each type of toothbrush has its benefits, and if used correctly with fluoride toothpaste, both also promote healthy teeth and gums.

Should I use a soft, medium, or hard bristle toothbrush?


There are different strengths of bristles for toothbrushes. Most commonly used are soft bristles, and these are often recommended for a safe and comfortable option for everyone. If you have a particular oral health need, such as stained teeth, you may also require firm bristles to help clean your teeth more thoroughly.


However, stiff bristles do come with warnings as they can cause gum and tooth issues if brushed too hard. It’s not just the strength of the bristle that needs to be considered either, as brushing too hard can cause damage to your enamel and gums. Plus, your toothbrush will weaken more quickly than normal. If you’re ever in doubt about what strength to use, speak with your dentist.

Ask the professionals

 Dental Professional

Everyone is different, and dental health can vary between two people. If you have any questions, our dentists in Asheville, NC, can help. Many dental experts can recommend what toothbrush to use and how to brush your teeth correctly to prevent cavities.


Changing your toothbrush when recommended will help to encourage good oral health and prevent issues with plaque and gum disease. While replacing them every 3-4 months may seem a lot, you might be surprised at just how the bristles look after this period and keeping tabs on when to change them will help you be more conscious of this aspect of your oral hygiene routine.