Regular brushing and flossing prevent cavities, gum problems, tooth loss, and dreaded bad breath. And you can’t overestimate the importance of good dental care for your overall health. In fact, gum disease is a risk factor for the development of several serious health conditions, including heart disease and diabetes.\nOne minor detail can come in the way of your dental hygiene: An old toothbrush. Worn toothbrushes with frayed bristles lose their effectiveness and cleaning power, so it’s important to know when to replace yours.\nRELATED:\u00a0Gum Disease and Heart Problems: What’s the Link?\nHow Often Should You Change Your Toothbrush?\nThe American Dental Association (ADA) recommends replacing your toothbrush every three to four months or before the bristles become frayed.\nYou should also get a new toothbrush after you’ve been sick because brush bristles can harbor germs. Children’s toothbrushes often need replacing more frequently than adult brushes, because kids often brush their teeth more vigorously.\nTips on toothbrush care\nThe ADA and the Council on Scientific Affairs provide the following toothbrush care recommendations:\n\nIf possible, store your toothbrush in an upright position and allow it to air-dry until it’s used again.\nIf you’re storing more than one toothbrush in the same container, keep them separate to avoid cross-contamination.\nDo not routinely cover your toothbrush or store it in a closed container. Moist environments are more conducive to the growth of bacteria.\nDo not share toothbrushes.\nThoroughly rinse your toothbrush with tap water after use to remove toothpaste and debris.\nTry dipping your brush in mouthwash or hot water for a few seconds to kill off germs.\n\nTip:\u00a0Having trouble remembering when it’s time to get a new brush? Some toothbrushes have bristles that change color after a few months of use, which can help you stay on track.\nVisit the website for UPMC Dental Services for more.