The American Dental Association recommends switching to a new toothbrush every 3-4 months. According to the New York Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System, in 2014 Cortland County had the highest rate of Emergency Room visits for bacterial pneumonia in six counties (see chart, for more Cortland County information visit healthecny.org). So what does one have to do with the other!?
Well, bacteria are contagious, they can spread from one person to another, often through saliva or mucus. If you live with family or roommates, chances are you share a cup or holder for your toothbrushes, meaning they are really close together, meaning if someone is sick or has a cavity those bacteria or germs can spread from toothbrush to toothbrush. Eww.
So the recommendation to change our toothbrushes often is not just because toothbrush bristles can become bent and not work as well; but also to get rid of the bacteria that might be hanging out on the bristles from a prior illness and help decrease the spread of communicable diseases.
Note: It’s good practice to change your toothbrush after an illness, it’s also good practice to not share a common toothbrush holder with the whole household.