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Updated on September 30, 2022

How Often Should You Replace Your Toothbrush?

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How Often Should You Change Your Toothbrush?

Healthy oral hygiene habits help maintain good overall dental health. Most dentists recommend that you brush your teeth at least twice per day. You should brush them every morning when you wake up, as well as in the evenings before you go to sleep.

Whether you decide to use a manual or an electric toothbrush is up to you. There are pros and cons to both types of toothbrushes.

Some studies have shown that people who use electric toothbrushes have healthier gums, less cavities, and longer-lasting teeth than people who use manual toothbrushes.1 This may be because electric toothbrushes have various modes and timers to improve your brushing technique.5 You should also floss daily.2

Both manual and electric toothbrushes need to be changed over time. Replacing your toothbrush or toothbrush head is necessary because bacteria can build up in the bristles, and bristles can fray. Bristles need to be clean and strong to effectively clean your teeth.2

Generally, both manual toothbrushes and electric toothbrush heads should be changed every 3 to 4 months. Some electric toothbrush heads also have special indicators to let you know when to switch them out. 

You may have a separate travel toothbrush or toothbrush head that you take on business trips or adventures. Even if you’re not using this toothbrush or brush head every single day, you should still change it about every 6 months.2

You can learn more about the major differences between manual and electric toothbrushes here. If you are interested in switching to an electric toothbrush, you can read more about how to use one here.

When Should You Change Your Toothbrush? 

Both manual toothbrushes and electric toothbrush heads need to be changed regularly. In some cases, you will need to change your toothbrush sooner than the 3-to-4-month mark. 

Here are some instances when you should get a new toothbrush or toothbrush head:

  • Your toothbrush is fraying. Nylon bristles wear out faster from aggressive or frequent use. Splayed bristles cannot reach well under the gumline or between the teeth.6
  • You have been sick with an illness like strep throat or the common cold. A clean toothbrush can help you recover so you don’t reinfect yourself with the same bacteria from your toothbrush.
  • You drop your toothbrush. The bristles in your toothbrush collect bacteria, especially if you don’t keep it clean.
  • You are struggling with bad breath or another dental issue. Bad breath might be a sign that your current toothbrush isn’t doing its job.
  • Your dentist recommends a different brush with soft bristles instead. There are also toothbrushes with straight or angled bristles.

Talk with your dentist about any concerns you have with your toothbrush or other dental appliances. They will recommend the best type of toothbrush for you and your dental needs.

How to Maintain Your Toothbrush

It is very important to take good care of your toothbrush. Regardless of the type of toothbrush you have, you should keep it clean and dry.

After you are done brushing your teeth with your toothbrush, place it under the faucet to rinse it. It’s best to rinse it in hot water. Shake it out well, and let it stand brush side up to dry

Store your toothbrush in an open space, as a closed container is a breeding ground for germs. It is also important to store your toothbrush away from the toilet to minimize exposure to the spray from a flushed toilet. 

Every once in a while, you can also soak your manual toothbrush in an antibacterial mouthwash to adequately clean it. While traveling, keep your electric toothbrush covered in a case. However, you should leave it out in an open space while at home.

What are the Risks of Not Changing Your Toothbrush?

If you do not replace your toothbrush or toothbrush head on a regular basis, it can become ineffective. You don’t want to brush your teeth with an old, dirty toothbrush. And, if the toothbrush bristles are worn out, they won’t do their job, resulting in plaque accumulation.7

Plaque buildup can ultimately cause severe dental problems like tooth decay and gum disease.

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Summary

Brushing your teeth twice per day with a clean toothbrush is key to maintaining good oral hygiene. This means taking care of your toothbrush and swapping it for a new one every 3 to 4 months.
In addition to swapping out your toothbrush every few months, you should also visit your dentist regularly. Your toothbrush and floss may not be able to reach all areas effectively, even with your best efforts at home. Your dentist can give you a more thorough cleaning, which you should get at least twice per year.4

7 Sources Cited
Last updated on September 30, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Dentalhealth.org. “Electric Toothbrushes Win the Head-to-Head against Manual in Record Breaking New Study.” Oral Health Foundation, 20 Aug. 2019.
  2. Gsk. “How Often Should You Really Change Your Toothbrush.” ?, GSK, 30 June 2020.
  3. How Often Should You Change Your Toothbrush?Colgate®: Toothpaste, Toothbrushes & Oral Care Resources.
  4. Kay, E J. “How Often Should We Go to the Dentist?BMJ (Clinical Research Ed.), British Medical Journal, 24 July 1999.
  5. The Benefits of Electric Toothbrush vs. Manual.” Oral, Oral-B.com.
  6. Wadyka, Sally. “Should You Use an Electric Toothbrush or a Manual Toothbrush?Consumer Reports.
  7. When to Change Your Toothbrush or Brush Head.” Oral, Oral-B.com.
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