How Often to Change Toothbrush Heads and Ways to Maintain Them

How Often to Change Toothbrush Heads and Ways to Maintain Them

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You know when to replace your clothes and shoes since they become visibly worn out and threadbare. But with toothbrushes, it isn’t necessarily obvious. We all have heard of the three-month rule, but is that true? How often should you change toothbrush heads to maintain good oral hygiene?

While three months is an ideal time frame to get rid of a toothbrush head, there could be other factors that would determine when you should replace it. So we decided to jump into this subject and find out when exactly to change a toothbrush head. In addition, we will also talk about why it is necessary to do so and how you should maintain the toothbrush head while it’s in use.

How Often to Change Toothbrush Heads?

Every dentist agrees:  You need to replace the toothbrush head every three or four months. That is a must, irrespective of the condition of the toothbrush head.  Fungi and bacteria can develop on the bristles, and they lose their effectiveness.

While three to four months is the maximum you can push it to, you should also keep an eye on the brush head’s bristles. If they appear to be frayed, they will do a terrible job in keeping your teeth clean. Children often tend to brush their teeth a bit more rigorously than adults. At times, they even bite on the bristles and they’ll just wear out faster.

Another critical thing to keep in mind is that you should consider getting yourself a new toothbrush or a toothbrush head immediately if you have recently recovered from sicknesses such as colds, a sore throat, flu, or a cough. You should also do the same if your toothbrush was stored closed to another toothbrush that belonged to someone who is/was sick recently. The reason why we recommend doing this is that germs can easily hide in the bristles of the toothbrush, and this may lead to an infection.

Ways to Remember When It’s Time to Replace the Toothbrush Head

For most people, it isn’t easy to remember when to change their toothbrush heads. If you are amongst one of those, then here are some tips for you:

  • Create a reminder: One of the simplest ways is to remember when to replace your toothbrush head is to mark your calendar three to four months from the day you start using it. You can also easily and quickly set a reminder on your phone’s calendar.
  • Buy toothbrushes with indicator lights: Quite a few toothbrushes these days, such as those made by Colgate, Oral-B, and Sonicare, come with indicator bristles. Initially, they produce a fuller and brighter color, which is usually blue. As and when you use your toothbrush, that strip of bristle will lose its color and get significantly lighter, either it will turn clear or white, and this will serve as a guide that it is time to replace the toothbrush head.
  • Choose a high-end electric toothbrush model: There are also high-end electric toothbrushes, such as Genius 8000 and 9000, Sonicare Flexcare Platinum Connected, and Oral-B Pro 6500, that come with a reminder with the help of applications or software that store all data. There are even models that come with microchips that will tell you exactly how long you have been using the particular toothbrush head. When it is time to change it, the microchip will trigger the LED light on the brush’s handle to light up.

How to Take Care of the Toothbrush Head?

Maintaining the toothbrush head is equally crucial as replacing it in time. A toothbrush head that is barely used for two weeks will do you more harm if it isn’t maintained correctly. Here are some things you can do:

  • Let the toothbrush head dry completely: To ensure that you keep the toothbrush head as well as yourself healthy, make sure that you let the toothbrush head dry out thoroughly in between uses. Wet toothbrush heads can easily become a breeding ground for fungi, germs, and bacteria. If this is left for a more extended period, these will build up to a significant level.
  • Tap and shake: Make sure that after every use, you vigorously shake your toothbrush under the tap water to get rid of the lingering toothpaste, food debris, and the saliva. After which, shake it thoroughly to get rid of the excess water stuck between the bristles.
  • Store toothbrushes properly: You can further take care of your toothbrush by making sure that you prevent flu and cold viruses from being passed from one toothbrush to another. To do so, when you store your toothbrush, try to keep it from touching the other toothbrushes around it. You should also make sure that you cover the toothbrush head with the cap that came along with it at all times to prevent pests and germs from getting into it.
  • Get the right toothbrush holder: A standard toothbrush holder that has multiple slots that keep toothbrushes in an upright position is always a great investment. Not only will it separate the toothbrushes properly, but it will also allow them to dry thoroughly.

How to Maintain Your Toothbrush When You Are Traveling?

Some of you might prefer to carry your electric toothbrush during your travels instead of buying one at your destination. To make sure that the toothbrush is protected from damage and exposure to unwanted items, you must place it inside a toiletry bag.  This ensures that you don’t dump your toothbrush anywhere in your baggage to pick up additional germs.

A plastic toothbrush case is a good idea since it does a good job in protecting your toothbrush head from getting flattened or squashed when placed with other items. It is also best to disassemble your electric toothbrush when packing it in the toiletry bag.


Remembering to change your toothbrush head every three and four months serves as a safe general rule. However, it also can be sooner depending on various factors. Get into the habit of picking up replacement toothbrush heads for everyone in your family several times in a year, and setting reminders to keep everyone on track.  Your smile will look terrific for years to come!

About the Author Dr. Greg

Dr. Greg's experience in dentistry spans over 25 years serving patients of all ages. He's an advisor to and a consultant to many professional dental projects.