For such a simple device, your toothbrush has profound benefits for your oral health (and your overall health). It’s your first line of defense against bad breath, gum disease, plaque buildup, and lots more.
But if you don’t replace your toothbrush regularly it won’t be nearly as effective.
Most dental professionals say your toothbrush lasts three to four months. However, some studies suggest they wear out much sooner. There are also situations when it’s smart to change toothbrushes early because of hygiene risks.
Read on to learn when science says to swap your toothbrush, what it’s made of, and the best material to polish those pearly whites.
How Often Should You Change Your Toothbrush?
It’s best to change your toothbrush every three months for optimal dental hygiene. This goes for manual and electric toothbrushes. Replacing your toothbrush ensures your bristles stay strong enough to remove plaque and protect your gums.
You’ll probably notice signs of wear around the three-month mark, like frayed bristles. But it’s easy to lose track of time. Accordingly, you might want to put a reminder on your calendar to get a new toothbrush.
Here are a few situations when you should replace your toothbrush before the usual three-month mark:
- After you’re sick, especially with viral or bacterial infections like strep throat
- If someone else (even a family member) accidentally uses your toothbrush
- If your toothbrush bristles look frayed, matted, or worn out
- If your toothbrush comes into contact with unsanitary materials or surfaces
To maximize the lifespan of your toothbrush, rinse it thoroughly with tap water and store it in a dry place with the brush head upright and away from other toothbrushes.
You don’t need to put a special closed container around the brush head to protect it. In fact, this might lead to mold growth.
What Happens If You Don’t Replace Your Toothbrush?
Using an old toothbrush might not seem like a big deal, but it can put you at risk for serious dental health concerns.
Your toothbrush bristles get a little bit weaker each time you use them. As they wear down, they become less effective at removing plaque that builds up on your teeth and around your gum line.
According to this 2013 study, people who used the same toothbrush for 70 or more days had more plaque buildup than people who changed their toothbrush after 40 days. Overall, the researchers noted that more bristle flaring directly correlated with plaque accumulation.
Left untreated, plaque destroys enamel, causing cavities and tooth decay. Further, Harvard Health notes that bacteria from the mouth can travel to the heart and lungs, raising the risk of cardiovascular diseases and pneumonia.
Bottom line: it’s not just toothpaste that promotes oral hygiene—the bristles you brush with count too.
What Are Toothbrush Bristles Made Of?
Most “standard” toothbrush bristles are made of nylon: a synthetic plastic derived from petroleum (crude oil). Companies use nylon bristles because they’re cheap, durable, and smooth—that’s why it’s often used for flossing too.
The downside is nylon toothbrush bristles are no-good for the environment. Petroleum-based nylon isn’t recyclable or compostable and can take 40 years to break down in a landfill.
Luckily, there’s an eco-friendly alternative: plant-based nylon bristles. The soft bristles on our Natural Bamboo Toothbrush are made from castor seed oil, which has the same durability as plastic, but it’s just as friendly to the earth as it is to your mouth.
A less-common material for toothbrush bristles is boar hair (or pig hair). This is a natural, plastic-free option. However, boar bristles are more prone to harboring bacteria and grime. Boar bristles are derived from animals, so they’re not compatible with a vegan lifestyle.
Should You Use a Medium Bristle or Soft Bristle Toothbrush?
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends using a toothbrush with soft bristles as opposed to hard or medium bristles. That’s because firm bristles can irritate your gums, especially if you have a sensitive mouth.
As far as the electric vs. manual toothbrush debate, the ADA says both are effective at removing plaque. As long as you brush for two minutes twice daily, you’ll be in good shape.
Benefits of a Bamboo Toothbrush
If you want to eliminate all plastic from your brushing routine, a bamboo toothbrush is your best friend. Bamboo is a durable, lightweight, eco-friendly alternative to plastic toothbrushes. It’s also naturally antimicrobial.
When you ditch plastic for bamboo, you’re making a wise move for your oral health and the health of the planet. More than a billion plastic toothbrushes get thrown away each year across America, totaling about 50 million pounds of plastic waste that takes hundreds of years to break down.
Our Natural Bamboo Toothbrush is compostable, so you can skip the bin.
Replacing Your Toothbrush Just Got Easier
It’s easy to forget the last time you changed your toothbrush—that’s why we’re happy to handle it for you.
Our reusable toothbrush handle comes with a replaceable brush head that can be easily switched out. Just choose the “Subscribe & Save” option at checkout and we’ll deliver brush head refills directly to your door. Oh, and did we mention you’ll save 20% too?
That’s better for you, the planet, and your bank account.