Should I replace the brush head now or can I wait?
November 27, 2012 7:19 PM   Subscribe

The reminder bristles on my Sonicare brush head have already faded to the halfway point. Is it wise to continue using it until the 3-month mark or should I switch to the next unused brush head?

I haven't used my Sonicare much since I bought it, but I found it again and decided to recommit myself since I remembered how slick my teeth felt after using it. I bought a fresh pack of brush heads and I've been using the Sonicare for several weeks. My reminder bristles on the first brush head have already faded halfway and I was under the impression that the bristles would fade after the brush quality had degraded enough to warrant replacement.

Is it ok to ignore the manufacturer's note about replacing brushes once the blue bristles have faded or is it best to move on to the next brush? Is this a "whichever comes first" kind of guideline or is three months the best standard to follow (regardless of the reminder bristles)? Also, I use the accompanying UV sanitizer after each brushing -- would that influence how quickly the color fades from those blue bristles?

The last question is the silliest perhaps, but I figured I would ask. I didn't think that my brushing was so vigorous that it would wear down the bristles this quickly. And I realize that the thousands of movements per minute would subject any brush to a great deal of physical stress, but I thought Philips may have considered that while designing the bristles. I searched AskMeFi and I turned up a post where some folks suggested waiting until the bristles are simply bent out of shape, falling out of the handle or stiff (which reminds me of crunchy old socks). I was wondering if anyone had different advice or experiences relating to brush replacement.

"Thanks" in advance for the help -- I know a dentist is the best source for this information, but I've only just signed up for dental coverage (beginning in 2013). Nighty night...
posted by neitherly to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I LOVE my Sonicare. I brush my teeth 2-3 times a day, sometimes 4, and my indicator usually looks about half way starting around week two of use. I time my head-replacement with the seasons, throwing out the old one on the first day of the new season. I think the indicator is just a reminder to not keep it around forever.
posted by banannafish at 7:37 PM on November 27, 2012

The indicator bristles are there to remind you to purchase more brush heads. Pessimistically, the purchase of the toothbrush is a one-time cost. It's in Sonicare's favor to create reasons for you to buy their products more often.

Go ahead and change the brush heads every three months like normal. Unless they look or feel worn, are bent out of shape, or get really gross, there's really no reason to switch out more often.
posted by phunniemee at 7:56 PM on November 27, 2012

Yeah, I use mine until it gets a teeny bit frayed, which can take four or five months.
posted by Specklet at 8:51 PM on November 27, 2012

Best answer: I carry on using mine after the bristles have changed colour.

I find mine last longer if I don't brush like I would with a normal toothbrush, but let the head gently roam over my teeth. There's little need to be more vigorous than that because the vibrations do most of the work. I find there's no need to press the head against my teeth like I would with a normal brush.

I never bother with the sanitiser thing. Any germs on the brush head are going to be from my mouth anyway, so even if it's sanitised, it's going to have the same germs put right back on it the next time I brush my teeth anyway.
posted by Solomon at 10:23 PM on November 27, 2012

Response by poster: >> I find there's no need to press the head against my teeth like I would with a normal brush.

Thanks - I'll keep that in mind as I brush from now on. I think that I continue to push the bristles against my teeth like I would with a normal toothbrush.

I'm relieved to see that the indicator may fade out long before the brush head actually loses its usefulness. phunniemee's reply is in line with what I suspected: Philips' business wouldn't exactly thrive if they told you that you could use brush heads as long as you like.
posted by neitherly at 5:13 AM on November 28, 2012

And if you want to cut down on the gunk that WILL collect inside the screw-on base, get a SonicSeal cover for it. I discovered some rather nasty looking reddish/black mold starting to grow inside the one my wife used. After tossing that head and putting the covers on both our brushes they've stayed perfectly clean inside. They're a little tricky to wrestle onto the head but the end result is worth it.

I also found a bulk pack of the heads on Amazon that softens the sticker-shock of replacing them.

I'm inclined to agree with Solomon on the brushing style suggestions. You're not doing your teeth and gums any good if you're using the brush head too hard. Not that you need to go easier just to save on the cost of the brush heads though.

You might want to bring the brush with you to your dentist next time and ask them about your brushing style. It might seem a bit humbling to have someone correct how you brush your teeth, but better that than having to get them removed later because of it.
posted by wkearney99 at 5:52 AM on November 28, 2012

Just as a data point, I got a 6-pack of brush heads at Costco this year and those are the ones that I noticed very quickly losing their blue indicator and then fraying sooner than I expected -like 6 weeks. In my memory, I think the 2-packs that I've gotten at bed Bath and Beyond lasted longer. So I don't know if brush heads are one of those products that are made more cheaply for discount stores or if I was just weird in noticing something that's not really true. But I've still been using them for 3 months anyway.
posted by CathyG at 8:12 AM on November 28, 2012

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