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How often should you change your toothbrush, really?

Posted by
Kayleigh Dray
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How often should you change your toothbrush, really?

Look this way if you keep your toothbrush on the sink, near a toilet, or next to your partner’s…

As children, we’re taught the three fundamentals of good basic hygiene from a very early age: wash your hands, scrub behind your ears, and brush your teeth.

As adults, we’ve carried those lessons with us – and then some. We all know to brush our teeth twice a day and floss regularly. We all know that chewing gum isn’t a good substitute for regular brushing (although, in a pinch, it can freshen your breath). And we all know to avoid buying toothpaste with microbeads in it, lest we want to… well, y’know, slowly destroy the planet.

What we don’t seem to know, however, is how often we should be changing our toothbrushes – particularly as so many of us are trying to practice sustainability. Indeed, as I write this, my own dilapidated brush sits in a mug on the bathroom sink, its bristles all frayed and worn through overuse.

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So what’s the answer?

Well, according to Colgate’s dental experts, we should be replacing our toothbrushes every three to four months. Even sooner, in fact, if we’ve a) been sick, or b) been storing our toothbrush next to our partner’s.

In fact, we want to make sure that our toothbrushes never touch anyone else’s. Ever. It’s the best way to prevent bacteria from spreading.

Caring for your toothbrush

Of course, there are certain steps you need to be taking in order to ensure your toothbrush actually goes the distance.

For starters, the American Dental Association recommends rinsing your toothbrush after every use, to shake off any excess saliva (gross) and toothpaste. Then, you should store it away in a vertical position, so that the bristles have a chance to air-dry.

Keep your toothbrush away from the toilet and sink

The former can create an aerosol effect with particles of germs wafting through the air after flushing. The latter exposes your brush to soap and dirty water from hand washing. Neither is brilliant news for toothbrushes.

The trick is to find a spot on your bathroom counter in a far corner, as far away from the toilet and sink as possible. And don’t be tempted to cover it in a bid to keep it protected, either.

“Using a toothbrush cover doesn’t protect a toothbrush from bacterial growth, but actually creates an environment where bacteria are better suited to grow by keeping the bristles moist and not allowing the head of the toothbrush to dry out between uses,” says Laura Aber, who conducted a study on bathroom cleanliness for the American Society for Microbiology.

According to dental experts, we should be replacing our toothbrushes every three to four months
According to dental experts, we should be replacing our toothbrushes every three to four months

Where to buy an eco-friendly toothbrush

On average, the world consumes more than 3.6 billion plastic toothbrushes every year – most of which end up in the sea and in landfills.

What’s the easiest solution? Well, something as simple as opting for an eco-friendly toothbrush will help you do your bit for the planet.

And, to help you along the way, we’ve picked out some sustainable shopping options for you below.

The Truthbrush

Crafted from sustainable, organic bamboo which is naturally antibacterial, the Truthbrush received the first prize at both the Eco Excellence and Veggie Awards. Buy four (aka a year’s supply) for just £16

Colgate Bamboo Charcoal Soft Toothbrush

The Colgate Bamboo Charcoal Toothbrush is made with 100% natural, biodegradable* bamboo and is free from plastic packaging, so it’s a great choice for environmentally conscious shoppers. Buy yours for £4 from Waitrose now.

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Humble Toothbrush

This biodegradable eco-friendly bamboo toothbrush was designed in Sweden by a team of dentists. You can buy a pack of five (so just over a year’s supply) for £16.99 at Holland & Barrett

Wild & Stone’s Bamboo Toothbrush

Made from sustainably harvested organic bamboo, these brushes also feature charcoal-infused (and vegan friendly) bristles. Pick up a pack of four for just £7.99 now

The Pearly White Club

Signing up to the Pearly White Club’s subscription service means that you don’t even have to remember to shop for a new toothbrush! Instead, you’ll have them delivered to your door – and all made of biodegradable bamboo, too. A bi-monthly subscription starts from £25 per year

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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