It’s Time To Talk About Toothbrush Maintenance 101

A toothbrush is one of the most common tools that you have in your home. This feisty little tool has literally got your back 2-3 times per day. It fights against and prevents bacteria, tooth decay, bad breath, and more.  Did your parents ever teach you how to properly care for your toothbrush, though?

Believe it or not, most parents forget to pass these important details on to us because we are so young when we learn to brush our teeth and it’s a lot of information for a little mind to contain all at once. Randomly, a new toothbrush appears and we’re  told, “that’s your new toothbrush.” You don’t think twice about why. “Thanks, mom! Blue is my favorite color”. 

Well, there is actually a care guide for your toothbrush and that includes an expiry date for your toothbrush. That’s right! There is a set time that you should toss that brush out and get a new one. 

What Is Toothbrush Maintenance? 

Toothbrush maintenance helps to conserve the life of our toothbrush within its lifespan. This includes: 

1. Always rinse your toothbrush thoroughly after using it. This helps to remove the bacteria on the brush. 

2. Air drying your toothbrush – do not put a plastic cover on it. Bacteria will grow at a rapid pace if you do. Air drying allows bacteria to escape and release. 

3. Store your toothbrush away from your toilet where there are airborne bacteria. You don’t have to store your toothbrush in a separate room, just not right above or beside the toilet. 

4. Smell your toothbrush. If you get a whiff of something funky, it’s time to change it up. 

toothbrushes air drying in masculine bathroom with soap and oil
Photo Credit: Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Toss It Every 3-4 Months 

So, you’re up to date on maintenance and your toothbrush looks perfectly fine. The bristles are still strong, it appears clean on the outside, and it seems to be doing its job. Congratulations, your maintenance skills are up to par! BUT, that doesn’t mean you can keep using it…. 

As mentioned before, this little tool is fighting for you every day. It’s fighting against gum disease, cavities and helping to kick your bacterial infections to the curb. What a champ! We can do everything in our power to maintain and sanitize this tool, but it doesn’t actually extend its life. There are some places on a toothbrush that are just impossible to clean. Therefore, dentists recommend that you toss it every 3-4 months. 

Orange, purple and white bristles on a toothbrush
Photo Credit: Jesse Tellier

These little pores that the bristles shoot out of are full of invisible bacteria. Those bristles will loosen after time and begin to fall out ….in your mouth. If you like eating bacteria-filled bristles for breakfast, that’s your prerogative. I, however, like to avoid the idea of it at all costs. 

There Are Some Exceptions

There are some exceptions to the 3-4 month rule where you will need to toss your toothbrush early.

Exception 1: Whenever you get sick, toss that toothbrush! 

sick man wearing a blanket and blowing his nose
Photo Credit: Cottonbro at Pexels

Exception 2: If you notice the bristles are becoming weak and fraying, it’s garbage. 

old toothbrushes stored together in dark space
Photo Credit: – Bored Photographer at Unsplash

Exception 3: If it smells funny, throw it out right now.  

nose smelling a smelly toothbrush
Photo Credit: Jesse Tellier


Stay on top of your toothbrush replacement date by following these two easy reminder techniques:

  1. Change it with the seasons. Open a new toothbrush on the first day of spring. You now know that on the first day of summer you should replace your toothbrush. After a few seasons pass, this will become a natural routine. 
  2. Set a reminder on your smartphone. If you don’t have a smartphone, you probably have some sort of smart device. Input the date you started using your toothbrush and set a recurring reminder for every 3- 4 months.

Dental hygiene isn’t something to mess around with. It plays a big role in our overall health. Always remember if you’re ever in doubt – toss it out! After all, a new toothbrush costs much less than a trip to the dentist.  

Check out this article for ways to use your old toothbrush for other tasks around the house.