How Often Should You Replace Your Toothbrush?

How Often Should You Replace Your Toothbrush? The answer to this debate usually depends on who you talk to. The normal assumption is that you should be replacing your toothbrush at least every three months. Toothbrush manufacturers might say every 30 days. But what is the real deal? Is there a “right” answer to this question?

What Toothbrush Manufacturers Say

Most manufacturers recommend changing your toothbrush every three months. While many people may think this is merely to sell more toothbrushes, it is actually based on a variety of good reasons. While exploring this question, we discovered the following reasons for this recommendation:

  • Bristles become frayed and worn
  • Prevents bacteria from developing
  • Brushing is less effective
  • New brushes remove more plaque

Manufacturers of electric toothbrushes offer subscription services through distributors. This service sends members a new electric toothbrush head automatically. By using a service, there is no problem trying to remember how long you’ve been using your brush. You simply change to the new head when it arrives in the mail.

Some toothbrush manufacturers have employed “reminder bristles” in their designs. These special bristles are brightly colored when you buy your new toothbrush. As you use the brush, the color fades. Once the color is gone or significantly faded, it is time to change your brush.

What the American Dental Association Says

Both the American Dental Association (ADA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have guidelines for toothbrushes. The general recommendation is to replace your brush every three to four months. While that is almost the same as the manufacturer’s recommendation, there are additional reasons recommended by both organizations.

 

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In addition to regularly changing your toothbrush, you should also replace it under these conditions:

  • When anyone in your household has been sick, especially bacterial infections such as strep throat
  • For children who sometimes chew on or mash the heads of their toothbrushes
  • If anyone else uses your toothbrush
  • If you drop it on the floor or any other surface

The general rule should be — When in doubt, change it out.

General Care of Your Toothbrush

Your toothbrush can be a collector of all things icky. By developing a few simple habits, you can prevent many issues that can result in bacteria growth.

Don’t share toothbrushes. Even if rinsed well, brushes can have germs.

Rinse your brush thoroughly after use. Make sure you rinse all toothpaste residue from between bristles.

Store your toothbrush upright to air dry. Don’t allow toothbrushes to rest against one another.

Don’t use any of these to “deep clean” your toothbrush — Dishwasher, microwave, ultraviolet devices, disinfecting solutions, or mouthwash. These may damage your brush resulting in less effective brushing.

Avoid covering toothbrushes. If you use a travel container, your toothbrush should be allowed to dry before packing. If you must pack it damp, remove it and rinse it upon arrival at your destination.

Whether you have Invisalign, traditional braces, or no braces, maintaining a clean and healthy smile is important. Part of ensuring that is taking care of your toothbrush and switching it out regularly.

So… How Often Should You Replace Your Toothbrush?

At Pitner Orthodontics, we recommend that you replace your toothbrush every three months. We would also stress that replacing it after an illness is important to remove the risk of re-infecting yourself. Whether you use a manual toothbrush, an electric, or a battery-powered brush, changing it more often is the best practice.

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Best Cleaning Practices with Invisalign

When you invest in orthodontic treatment, it is important to learn the best cleaning practices with Invisalign. Although there are many different methods in use, not all are effective. We explored both commercially available products and household items that work well.

Why Cleaning Your Invisalign Trays is Important

Keeping your Invisalign trays clean is vitally important. Bacteria and food particles can collect on the trays causing tooth decay and other potential problems. Not cleaning your trays may also cause staining and lead to bad breath.

Developing a few good habits will help keep your tray aligners cleaner. These practices, in addition to brushing and flossing, will keep your mouth and your trays free of bacteria.

The first habit is to rinse your trays every time you remove them to remove saliva residue. You should place the trays in the carrying case while they are not being worn. This protects them from dust, airborne debris, and damage or loss.

Secondly, you should always brush and floss after a meal before reinserting your aligners. Leaving food particles on your teeth can cause decay. If you are unable to brush, you should rinse thoroughly and brush at your earliest opportunity. When you brush your teeth, you should also gently brush your tray aligner.

These simple practices will help keep your aligners clean. This will protect your teeth, the aligners, and keep bad breath away. You should also deep-clean your trays daily, either at night or first thing in the morning.

Best Cleaning Practices with Invisalign

Brushing: We mentioned brushing your trays every time you brush your teeth. While they don’t require anything except water, you should use soap at least once per day. Most orthodontists recommend a drop of dishwashing liquid, which is gentle and effective. Brush gently and rinse thoroughly to remove all soap residue. Non-abrasive toothpaste is acceptable but can dull the aligners.

 

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Soaking with Cleaning Crystals: Trays should be soaked once daily. Invisalign offers Cleaning Crystals for this task, although there are alternatives. With Cleaning Crystals, the trays should be placed in lukewarm (never hot) water with one package of crystals. Allow the trays to soak for 15-20 minutes. Gently brush and rinse trays after soaking.

Soaking with Denture/Retainer Tablets: Soaking trays using lukewarm water and a regular cleaning tablet is effective also. Do not use colored tablets, as these may stain your trays. Soaking should be at least 15-20 minutes. After soaking, gently brush and rinse your trays.

Baking Soda Soak: Baking soda is a handy cleaning aid. To use this product as a soaking agent, mix one-half cup lukewarm water with one tablespoon of baking soda. Once dissolved, soak your trays for 30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and brush gently after soaking.

Vinegar Soak: Mix one part white vinegar to three parts lukewarm water. Once well mixed, place your trays into the solution for 20-30 minutes. Rinse, then brush gently.

Call Pitner Orthodontics if You Still Have Questions

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush on your trays to avoid damaging them. Remember to rinse your trays whenever you remove them. Using any of the deep-cleaning processes will be sufficient to keep your trays looking and smelling great. If you have any questions about the care of your trays, please contact Pitner Orthodontics at one of our three offices:

Columbia — (803) 859-4442
Chapin — (803) 859-4377
Downtown (Adults) — (803) 859-4346

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