Updated on February 22, 2024
4 min read

How Often Should You Replace Your Toothbrush?

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

toothbrushes and toothpaste on a table
Toothbrush on wooden background, closeup

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

When Should You Replace 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:

1. Your Toothbrush Bristles are Frayed

Nylon bristles wear out faster from aggressive or frequent use. An old toothbrush will have splayed bristles, which cannot reach well under the gumline or between the teeth.6

2. You’ve Been Sick

If you have been sick with illnesses like strep throat or the common cold, you should change your toothbrush. A clean toothbrush can help you recover so you don’t reinfect yourself with the same bacteria from your toothbrush.

3. You Dropped Your Toothbrush

The bristles in your toothbrush collect bacteria, especially if you don’t keep it clean. If you drop it on the bathroom floor or any dirty surface, you risk the chance of putting harmful bacteria into your mouth.

4. You Struggle with Bad Breath

If you struggle with bad breath or another dental issue despite having a good oral care routine, you may have been using the same toothbrush for too long. Bad breath might be a sign that your current toothbrush isn’t doing its job.

5. Your Dentist Recommends a Different Brush

You may consider changing your toothbrush if your dentist recommends one 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.

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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.

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.

How to Maintain Your Toothbrush

It is very important to take good care of your toothbrush. Here are some ways to maintain manual or electric toothbrushes:

  • Always keep it clean and dry
  • After brushing your teeth, rinse your brush (preferably in hot water)
  • Let your toothbrush stand brush-side up to dry
  • Store your toothbrush in an open space
  • Keep your toothbrush away from the toilet
close up of person applying toothpaste on toothbrush

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.

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How Often Should You Brush Your Teeth?

Healthy oral hygiene habits help maintain good overall dental health. Most dentists recommend brushing your teeth at least twice daily, every morning when you wake up, and in the evenings before bed. You should also floss daily.2

Should You Use a Manual or Electric Toothbrush?

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, fewer 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 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.


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

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Last updated on February 22, 2024
7 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 22, 2024
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).
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