Your toothbrush might not be the most glamorous part of your beauty routine – but it might just be one of the most important. In fact, it’s said that we’re more concerned about our oral hygiene than ever – with nearly 12 million of us switching to an electric toothbrush in the last five years (in pursuit of the pearliest whites, no doubt).
But whether you’ve invested in the latest dental tech or not (though if you fall in the latter category, today’s top electric toothbrushes are proven to be far more nifty at keeping gum disease and other problems at bay), there’s one key part of our tooth-brushing routine that we tend to forget.
If – like 42 per cent of people in the UK – you’re not changing your toothbrush or toothbrush head as often as you need to, you’re most likely not getting what you need out of your daily dental efforts.
So how often should we really be changing our toothbrush? According to the Oral Health Foundation, we should be doing so every three months, or we risk damaging our gums and not actually cleaning the teeth properly. Yikes.
Many of us have missed our usual dental checkups over the course of the pandemic, so if that’s you, make sure to re-book an appointment. And keeping on top of your at-home dental hygiene in between visits is essential. Since studies suggest that brushing your teeth regularly and properly can help you out neurologically (gum disease can speed up mental decline by six times) and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and pneumonia, we’d say getting it right is pretty important.
Here, leading cosmetic dentist Dr Sam Jethwa, founder of Bespoke Smile, and the Vice President of the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry shares his expert advice on the importance of changing your toothbrush regularly – and what we can all do to prolong the life of our bristles.
How often should we be changing our toothbrushes?
“It’s advisable to change your toothbrush, or the head to your electric toothbrush, every three to four months,” warns Dr Jethwa. “However, this does vary depending on the individual. If your bristles are splaying, looking worn out or feeling less stiff, then you should change it. It’s also advisable to change your toothbrush sooner if you’ve been unwell, in order to avoid the harboring of germs on the brush,” he adds.
What happens if we don’t regularly change our toothbrushes?
“Failure to change your toothbrush regularly can mean that your brush won’t be doing the job of cleaning your teeth effectively,” advises Dr Jethwa. “This can result in a build-up of debris and plaque in the mouth which can cause tooth decay, gum disease and cavities. In addition to the pain that cavities and gum disease can cause, in severe cases it can also result in tooth loss.”
Is there anything we can do to prolong the life of our toothbrushes?
“In order to prolong the life of your toothbrush, it’s important that you take good care of them. It’s not advisable to share them with other people, and after each use make sure you wash it thoroughly with water,” says Dr Jethwa.
“Many people make the mistake of applying too much pressure when using a toothbrush. This can not only be damaging to gums, but can also cause your brush to need replacing sooner. Most electric brushes give a warning when too much pressure is being applied, with a manual however you’ll need to judge this yourself. You should hold the brush at a 45 degree angle and your grip on the brush should not be too hard, to help ensure you’re not applying too much pressure,” says Dr Jethwa.
He adds: “When you store it it’s a good idea to make sure that the heads of different toothbrushes don’t touch as this can transmit bacteria.”