One of the keys to excellent oral health is your dental hygiene. Thankfully, there are many products available to help in your quest to have the cleanest mouth, teeth and gums possible, but you’re wondering how long you can use them. Is there an expiration date on dental hygiene products? Your Hutchinson dentist weighs in to clear any confusion by discussing how long you can use various products to get the safest and maximum effects from them.
How Long Should These Products be Used?
Below is a list of some of the more common dental hygiene products, along with guidelines on how long they should be used:
- Toothpaste – Your toothpaste usually will contain a combination of gentle abrasives, flavoring and fluoride to help clean your teeth. Over time, though, the flavoring and fluoride will diminish, so it’s best to use your toothpaste no more than two years after the manufacturer’s expiration date.
- Toothbrush – The function of the toothbrush is to agitate and remove leftover food debris and bacteria from your teeth, but over time the remanence of the bacteria that it fights can leave traces in the bristles, which can lead to illnesses and hinder the effectiveness of your hygienic practices. To prevent this, replace your toothbrush every 60 to 90 days.
- Floss – While your toothbrush cleans roughly 60 percent of the surface of your teeth, dental floss gets the remaining 40 percent by probing the areas that the former can’t. Another great benefit of this product is that it doesn’t expire. Furthermore, you don’t have to worry about bacterial infection because you discard of the used portion of the floss after each application.
- Tongue Scraper – Another great asset to your oral hygiene routine is a tongue scraper. It allows you to remove up to 30 percent more bacteria from your tongue than your toothbrush, but after 3 to 4 months it should be discarded so that you can continue to get the most benefits.
- Mouthwash – You’ve just had a meal but can’t get to a toothbrush to clean your teeth. However, you have a small bottle of mouthwash to help rinse away any remaining debris and aide in keeping your mouth moist. There’s a limit to how long you should use this product, though. If your mouthwash is also anti-bacterial, then the alcohol or other antiseptic agents will mostly dissolve 2 to 3 years beyond the manufacturer’s expiration date. This leaves a product with an excessive amount of water that is more susceptible to bacteria growth.
Why is Your Oral Hygiene So Important?
We’ve been mentioning bacteria throughout this discussion because they are the main nemeses that you are fighting with your dental hygiene practices. Without any intervention, they wreak havoc on your oral health, leading to cavities, bad breath, gum disease, tooth loss and a host of other problems.
Thus, it’s important that you demonstrate the will and discipline to practice oral hygiene on a consistent basis. It’s also vital for you to know how to effectively use the products at your disposal.
So now that you’re more equipped with knowledge of how to use the above tools more effectively, your dentist in Hutchinson encourages you to take a bold stand for your oral health and not hesitate to reach out for any help.
About the Author
A graduate of the University of Nebraska College of Dentistry, Dr. Grant D. Ringler has been a fixture in the Hutchinson community for the past 30 years. Considered as a resource for many of his dental health colleagues, he offers comprehensive and compassionate care at his local practice. Dr. Ringler can be reached for more information through his website.