Should You Throw It Out? A Look at Expiration Dates on Dental Products

frayed toothbrush

Does toothpaste ever expire? What about mouthwash or dental floss? Or even your toothbrush? When it comes to your oral health, you only want to use the best products, so you want to make sure they still work. Let’s take a moment to look at the expiration date on dental products.

Toothbrush

The toothbrush itself comes with no expiration date, especially if it’s unused. However, the more you use it over time, the less effective it becomes. A good rule of thumb is to change out your toothbrush – or your brush head, if you’re using an electric toothbrush – every 3 months. If you have been sick recently, you should change it as soon as you start feeling better to prevent germs from wreaking havoc on your system again. Additionally, switch out your toothbrush if the bristles on it look frayed or worn. That means the brush won’t do its job right and can even wear down your tooth enamel, leaving you more vulnerable to cavities and sensitivity.

Floss

What do Twinkies and floss have in common? Although one is significantly better for your oral health than the other, they can both last forever! However, one aspect of dental floss is not everlasting: its flavor. If your floss originally had a minty taste, that flavor will be gone after about a year.

Toothpaste

When we run out of toothpaste, we typically rummage through our cabinets to find an old tube that must have at least one or two squeezes left. Is that safe to do? Yes, but if the tube is more than two years old, it won’t live up to its full potential. Not only will the flavor fade, but the fluoride will as well. Fluoride is the naturally occurring mineral that strengthens our teeth and helps prevent decay. Once the fluoride is gone, your toothpaste won’t fight plaque as well as it could.

Mouthwash

Most mouthwashes contain antiseptic ingredients, such as alcohol. They also have a high percentage of water in their makeup. After 2 of 3 years, the antibacterial elements start to dissolve, making the mouthwash more diluted and less effective. The chances of bacteria growing has increased. At that point, it’s best to replace it.

The bottom line? When it doubt, throw it out. Even if there’s still plenty of the product left, it never hurts to buy a fresh one, as it could really benefit your dental health.

About the Author

After earning his Doctor of Dental Medicine at Temple University Dental School in 1987, Dr. Gene Gutman received his Certificate in Diagnosis and Treatment of Masticatory System Disorders, such as TMJ disorder, from the Dr. Peter Dawson Center for Advanced Dental Study in 1999. If you’re in need of a new toothbrush or toothpaste, visit Dr. Gutman for an appointment. You can reach him here or at (215) 752-5911.