Is Your Toothbrush Ready to Retire?


Wait! Before you brush your teeth tonight, take a good look at your toothbrush. Is it time to put it out to pasture? Unlike shoes, jeans, and underpants, toothbrushes don’t always show the evidence of needing to be replaced. Here are a few ways to tell if you should retire your toothbrush:

Has a Whole Season Gone By?

A general rule of thumb is that your toothbrush should be replaced every three to four months. If you bought yours wearing shorts and flip-flops and now you’re sporting boots and mittens, it’s probably well past time to retire it. A useful habit to adopt is to just buy a new one whenever a new season “officially” begins on the calendar. Children’s toothbrushes generally need replacement more often, as they brush with a bit more vigor, so that three-month mark when the seasons change works well for the whole family.

Are the Bristles Frayed or Worn?

Even if your toothbrush hasn’t hit the three to four month mark, it may need to be replaced if its bristles have seen better days. Take a hard look at them—are they frayed, worn, or limp? Worn-out bristles don’t do a great job of cleaning teeth, so if they look tired, it’s time to trade out.

Have You Been Ill Recently?

If you or your children have been ill, especially with strep throat, it’s a good idea to replace toothbrushes once you’re on the mend. Toothbrushes can carry some nasty bugs around for a good, long time and can even make you ill all over again with continued use.

Make sure you’re keeping your toothbrush rinsed and clean, preferably upright in an open container (like a cup.) Keeping a toothbrush in a closed container or bag can invite bacteria to take root, and leaving toothpaste residue built-up on the bottom can make bristles stiff or prone to breakage. With proper care, a toothbrush should perform well for those three to four months, no problem.

To learn more, visit Dr. Murdoch and his team at

Dr. Murdoch cares for patients in the Centennial and Glendale/Cherry Creek neighborhoods of Denver, Colorado.

November 8, 2017