Here’s how often you should change your toothbrush

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Oral hygiene is super important. Keeping your teeth clean helps protect your overall health and keeps your breath smelling fresh. You might think that brushing, flossing, and regular visits to the dentist are enough to keep your mouth in tip-top shape, but there’s one simple thing that many of us forget to do that makes a huge difference: changing toothbrushes.

Toothbrushes wear out pretty quickly, especially if you’re brushing your teeth at least twice a day as the American Dental Association recommends. Regular brushing wears down the bristles of your toothbrush, meaning that it needs to be replaced regularly. The American Dental Association recommends changing your toothbrush at least every three to four months. If the bristles on your brush seem to be matted or frayed before then, though, go ahead and swap it out for a new brush. 

What happens if you don’t change your toothbrush every three to four months? Well, things can get pretty nasty. Your toothbrush isn’t just getting worn out as the weeks pass, it’s also accumulating germs. This is especially true if you store your toothbrush anywhere near your toilet. According to the Journal of Advanced Medical and Dental Science Research (via Redbook), roughly 60 percent of toothbrushes that are stored in shared bathrooms have some fecal matter present. Every time you flush the toilet, water droplets fly to your toothbrush, covering it in filth.

If you think covering your toothbrush to keep it free of poo particles will save you, think again. Covering the head of your toothbrush will keep things nice and moist for bacteria growth. According to Bustle, mold can also grow on a toothbrush that isn’t allowed to fully dry. If you see the telltale black spots of mold on your brush, it’s time to toss it.

You should also change your toothbrush if you’ve been sick. Dr. Heather Rosen told Today that flu, staph, strep, E. coli, and yeast like to make a home on toothbrushes. “There are so many bacteria that can reside on a toothbrush; therefore, it is always best to get rid of it once you have been infected with some sort of viral or bacterial illness,” she said.

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