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When to Change a Toothbrush

Your toothbrush can’t last forever. You probably already knew that, but you might be unsure about when you should replace it. When you visit All Coast Dental in Pacific Beach for your six-month cleaning, you’ll get a toothbrush, but it isn’t meant to last until your next visit. Instead, toothbrushes generally have a lifespan of twelve to sixteen weeks, but may need to be replaced sooner.

The basic function of a toothbrush is to remove plaque and food particles, so the bristles have to be straight enough to reach into crevices. A toothbrush is definitely worn out when its bristles are crushed sideways or “flared.” But a toothbrush might also need to be replaced if the user has recently suffered an infection, which would result in harmful microbes being transferred to the bristles. Companies that make electric toothbrush heads might also make cleaning devices for them, but the toothbrush head would still need to be replaced once its bristles become frayed.

You can reduce the likelihood of a toothbrush becoming contaminated by how you let it dry. Toothbrushes should be kept upright and exposed to air, instead of being left in traveling cases. They should be separated, especially if they belong to different people, so their heads don’t touch, and they should be replaced if there are dents in their plastic that could prevent bacteria from being washed off under hot water. The water you use to clean a toothbrush should never be hot enough to melt plastic, and you shouldn’t wash a toothbrush in the dishwasher or attempt to microwave it. And as always, when picking a toothbrush, you should get one with soft bristles, and not hope that hard bristles will become soft with use.

Drs. Julie and Joseph Boulos operate All Coast Dental at 2180 Garnet Ave, Suite 1-K, Pacific Beach, California, 92109. To schedule an appointment, call 858-270-4904 or visit All Coast Dental and fill out a contact sheet.

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