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Here’s how often you should replace your toothbrush, according to a dentist

A toothbrush is a daily health essential for keeping your teeth and mouth in check. So let’s ask: When was the last time you replaced your toothbrush? If you don’t know, you are probably overdue for a swap. Yes, there are official guidelines for how often you should be replacing your bristles. And there are some good reasons you should take them seriously.

Quick overview
  • Philips Sonicare ExpertClean 7500 White, Rechargeable electric power toothbrush, HX9690/06

  • Oral-B Pro 1000 Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush, Black with Pressure Sensor, 3 Modes

  • Oral-B Indicator Color Collection Toothbrushes,

  • Bite Bamboo Toothbrush, 2-Pack

The American Dental Association (ADA) — which advises brushing your teeth two times a day for two minutes each time — suggests replacing your toothbrush every three to four months or more often if the bristles are “visibly matted or frayed.” To put that in perspective, that’s about every 12 to 16 weeks, or about four times a year. The association adds that replacing your toothbrush on this schedule is essential because the effectiveness of a brush decreases as the bristles become worn.

“The best rule of thumb is once a quarter,” cosmetic dentist Dr. Victoria tells In The Know. “While it isn’t pleasant to think about, germs and bacteria can build up within your brush’s bristles over time. Without proper replacement, your teeth brushing, therefore, becomes less effective.”

To increase the longevity and effectiveness of your toothbrush, the ADA says to rinse the toothbrush thoroughly after each use to remove any remaining toothpaste or debris. The Center for Disease Control adds that this is especially important to remove bacteria, blood, saliva, oral debris and more during the brushing process.

After a good rinse, the ADA advises storing your toothbrush in an upright position, allowing it to air-dry. Storing a toothbrush in a closed container (yes, even just around the brush head) “promotes microbial growth more so than leaving it exposed to the open air,” according to the association.

All things considered, there are many ways to remind yourself to replace your toothbrush. Some electric toothbrush models alert you after a certain number of uses to replace the brush head, taking out the guesswork. Then, there are indicator bristles on manual toothbrushes that gradually lose color as your toothbrush ages, reminding you to swap. But you can also set a calendar reminder or simply write the swap date on your disposable brush or brush head to make sure you’re getting the most out of your dental routine.

“Check in at the start of each new season with your gadgets and replace the necessary items, and you’re good to go,” Dr. Victoria says. “Your teeth, gums and dentist will thank you for it!”

Does your toothbrush desperately need a swap out? Check out these stellar options below — some of which help you track when to do a switch out.

The ultimate electric toothbrush, the Philips Sonicare ExpertClean 7500 is like a dentist in a toothbrush. The model has a sensor in it, alerting you if you are brushing too hard. It also comes with three intensities and four modes, allowing you to tailor your teeth cleaning. You can track your brushing via an app that alerts you when it’s time to swap your brush head.

A popular toothbrush model, the Oral-B Pro 1000 has a round brush head with innovative crossed bristles for a thorough clean. The brush has pressure sensors to alert you if you brush too hard. Plus, this model has a built-in timer to help you brush for a dentist-recommended two minutes. Though this brush won’t alert you to swap out your brush head, you can note your swap date on the disposable head or set a calendar alert to remind yourself.

A simple yet effective classic, this budget-friendly toothbrush has soft bristles, which the ADA recommends for brushing. The brush’s blue indicator bristles gradually turn white over time, signaling that it’s time to swap brushes.

This bamboo toothbrush comes with two replaceable heads.
$12 at Bite

For an eco-conscious toothbrush choice, turn to Bite. The low-waste dental brand creates some of the best bamboo toothbrushes on the market. A replaceable head design allows you to replace the portion of your toothbrush that gets all the wear and tear. Plus, each starter pack comes with two brush heads, setting you up for six months of pearly whites. Simply note your swap date on the brush head with a marker — it won’t wash off the bamboo! — and you’ll be good to go.

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