September 23, 2013
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What You Need to Know About Dental Health Care Products

Establishing a routine is important when practicing good oral hygiene. A key part of a good oral hygiene routine is to be aware of how often dental health care products need to be replaced.

“It is important to replace your dental hygiene products so you continue to use products that are effective and in the best working condition,” says Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) member Dr. Tamara Brady.

The following are general guidelines on some of the most common products and their shelf life:

  • Toothbrushes should be replaced every three months, as well as after experiencing a cold or the flu. A toothbrush used only for travel should be replaced yearly, as bacteria will populate the bristles as it sits in a travel case.
  • Brush heads of mechanical/rechargeable toothbrushes should be replaced every three months.
  • The motor of battery powered toothbrushes will wear out over time and the toothbrush loses effectiveness. It would be wise to replace these toothbrushes (the power source and the rechargeable handle) every two to three years. Technology also will change over time and better battery powered units will enter the market every year.
  • Keep an eye on expiration dates of toothpastes and mouth rinses. They also lose effectiveness once the expiration date has passed.
  • Disposable items¬ such as floss, floss threaders, pre-pasted toothbrushes (typically found in dental offices for patients to use prior to their appointment), interdental picks or brushes are to only be used once and disposed of after.
  • Proxy brushes that remain straight, both bristles and wire, should be used for a short time period only. When used gently, proxy brushes may hold up for three to four days. Handles for the replaceable heads are fine to keep as long as they are holding the bristle head in place. 
  • Waterpiks, a home care device used to remove plaque and food debris between teeth and below the gum line, carry a three year warranty.

PDA encourages you to shop wisely and purchase dental health care products with the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. The ADA Seal of Acceptance, which is a registered certification mark, is awarded after a product is tested and meets ADA guidelines and standards. The Seal assures consumers that the manufacturer’s claims are true and the product produces the intended result.

As important as replacing your products is to the practice of good oral hygiene, where you store your dental health care products is just as essential in maintaining effectiveness.

Dr. Brady suggests storing your products in a cabinet or vanity that closes. If this is not possible, then keeping the products at least five feet from the toilet, on a counter top, will prevent contamination from a flushed toilet. Keeping products in a dry area reduces the risk of bacterial contamination. You want all of your toothbrushes and dental piks to dry completely between uses.

Practicing these guidelines will allow you to maintain the best oral health and limit the number of possible dental problems from occurring. Always consult with your PDA dentist if you have any questions or concerns regarding your oral hygiene routine and the dental health care products you use.

About the Pennsylvania Dental Association
Founded in 1868, the Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) is comprised of approximately 6,000 member dentists. It is a constituency of the American Dental Association (ADA), the largest and oldest national dental society in the world. PDA’s mission is to improve the public health, promote the art and science of dentistry and represent the interests of its member dentists and their patients. PDA is the voice of dentistry in Pennsylvania. Learn more about PDA.