Dentist Tips |3 min read

How Often Should You Change Your Toothbrush? (Especially If You’re Sick!)

A manual and electric toothbrush

The quick answer:

You should change to a new toothbrush every three months or as soon as the bristles begin the fray.

The same goes for electric toothbrush heads.


Toothbrushes become less effective at cleaning teeth over time.

But what if you’ve been sick or are more susceptible to illness? Do the same rules apply?

Let’s find out!

Should you change your toothbrush after being sick?

Yes! Change your toothbrush or toothbrush head after you’ve had a cold, the flu, a mouth infection, or a sore throat.


Here are some insights from our Waldorf dentists:

If you have gum problems or a weakened immune system, you should change your toothbrush every six weeks.

If you’re recovering from major surgery, you should replace your toothbrush every few days because susceptibility to infection is higher at that time.

If you have a bacterial infection, you could get re-infected with a toothbrush.

For example, if you had strep throat, a colony of streptococcal bacteria might end up on your toothbrush and remain there long enough to give you a second case after you’d taken a course of antibiotics.

If you have a viral infection, your body develops antibodies that make the likelihood of reinfection very low. However, we still recommend changing your toothbrush to be safe.

Should you replace your toothbrush after a cold sore?

Yes, you should use a new toothbrush as soon as you notice a cold sore coming on and after you’ve recovered from the outbreak.

This will help reduce the extent and severity and prevent reinfection.

Should you change your toothbrush after recovering from COVID-19?

If you become infected, we strongly encourage you to:

  • Isolate your toothbrush from others in your household.
  • Use your own toothpaste.
  • Not let your toothbrush or toothpaste tip touch. You can use a Q-tip to transfer the toothpaste onto your brush.
  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap before brushing and flossing for at least 20 seconds.
  • Discard your old toothbrush after recovering from COVID-19.

When in doubt, change your toothbrush or call your dentist for advice.

Located near Waldorf, MD? Call The Silberman Dental Group today!

Call for Advice: 301-885-2505

10 toothbrush tips everyone should know

These tips will help keep your oral and overall health in check:

  1. Don’t cover your toothbrush or place it in a closed container until it’s completely dry. A moist environment can foster bacterial growth.
  2. Use a completely dry toothbrush. Ideally, you should have two toothbrushes to give ample time (24 hours) for them to dry out in between uses.
  3. Never share a toothbrush with anyone. 
  4. Don’t let your toothbrush touch other people’s toothbrushes. This prevents germs from spreading.
  5. Replace your toothbrush every three months, when bristles begin to fray, or after you’ve been sick.
  6. If you’re sick, use a different tube of toothpaste than your family (the same goes for them). This can prevent spreading germs to other toothbrushes.
  7. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before and after brushing or flossing.
  8. After brushing, rinse your toothbrush with warm water and store it upright to air dry.
  9. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush with the ADA Seal of Acceptance… This text opens a new tab to the ADA website….
  10. Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.

Have more questions?

Contact our Waldorf dentist, Dr. Paul Silberman. He stays current on the latest advancements and research in the dental field.

Call for Advice: 301-885-2505

Or contact us by:

The Silberman Dental Group is located in Waldorf, MD… This text opens a new tab to our office on Google… and serves patients from across the state, including Charlotte Hall, White Plains, La Plata, Brandywine, Accokeek, and Mechanicsville.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2018 and has been completely revamped for comprehensiveness and timeliness.

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