When you think of expiration dates, the thought usually involves such products as meat, dairy, vegetables and other foods. Interestingly enough, though, the only food expiration that is regulated by the federal government is that for milk, which means that you’re responsible for educating yourself about what the safe ranges to stay within when it comes to your use of other products, including those made for oral hygiene. And although the effects of using them when their expiration dates have passed won’t have the dire effects that outdated food will, you still want to get the maximum effect, so your dentist of Ephrata will provide some guidelines to follow as you continue reading.
In most conversations about expiration, decay or degradation of a product, the real center of attention are bacteria because they facilitate the breakdown of material. And although they’re stigmatized at times, they are quite significant to sustaining life. However, just like with anything else, they can become harmful if not kept in their proper balance.
The unique thing about this discussion, though, is that the expiration of dental products isn’t necessarily due to bacteria degrading and decaying the agents. Instead, the degradation comes from just the ingredients weakening over time. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about many of the issues that come along with eating decayed food, but again, you want to get the most for your time and money. So take a look at how long you can effectively use these products.
Before using toothpaste it’s best to make sure that you’re within 2 years of the printed expiration date. It’s because after this period, the flavor and fluoride fade. Therefore, you’ll miss out on the minty taste and the fluoride won’t stick to your teeth, which lessens the plaque-fighting capabilities of your toothpaste.
Thankfully, floss never expires. While its effectiveness doesn’t wane, the mint flavor does subside after a year, so to get the full experience of a pleasant cleaning, be mindful of that period.
An unopened toothbrush never expires, but once you start using it, you should discard it after 3 to 4 months. This is because bacteria will begin to collect on it and can cause sickness or undesirable oral conditions over time. Furthermore, if you’ve gotten sick at any time, no matter how long you’ve had the toothbrush, you should toss it.
To get the best results, it’s suggested that you use mouthwash within 2 to 3 years of the posted manufacture date. Most mouthwashes contain alcohol or another form of antiseptic, but the mixture still contains a high percentage of water. Thus, after 2 to 3 years the antiseptic starts to dissolve, leaving mainly water and greatly decreased effectiveness.
It’s awesome that you are eager to practice excellent oral hygiene, so keep the above information in mind so that you’ll get the maximum results available. And if you have any more questions about your dental health, feel free to reach out to your local dentist.
About the Author
Sean Moriarty, DMD received his undergraduate degree from The Pennsylvania State University and then went on to earn his dental degree from the Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry at Temple University. He practices at Ephrata Family Dentistry and can be reached for more information through his website.