• A New York City dentist says many of his patients never change their toothbrush unless he hands them a new one.
  • How often you should replace your brush depends on how often you use it, but you can tell it needs to go when the bristles start to bend.
  • Storing it upright will help it dry out between uses and prevent bacteria buildup.

After more than 15 years working as a dentist in New York City, Keith Arbeitman said he has seen "a lot of teeth". So he knows how delinquent most people are in the oral care department.

When it comes to flossing? "D

In fact, the reason he hands out toothbrushes at every visit is because he believes it's the only way people will get a fresh brush.

The American Dental Association (ADA) suggests people should change their toothbrush (or the head on an electric toothbrush) about every three months. But Arbeitman said that arbitrary timeline isn’t helpful for everyone.

“It really depends how often you use your toothbrush,” he said, adding that it’s better to judge by how the brush looks than how long you’ve had it. “Once the bristles start to bend, you’re not really cleaning as effectively.”

For most people who brush twice a day, he says that 3-month ADA guideline is probably right. If you brush less, you won't need to change your toothbrush as often (but that brush-saving strategy is definitely not recommended).

worry too much about scary stuff lurking on the bristles.

“If you stand a toothbrush up and let it dry between uses, the bacteria are pretty much going to die,” Arbeitman said.