A few times every year, it happens. The season changes, the cleaning bug takes a bite, and your purge-and-disinfect mode is engaged.
One of the most common targets for those in a cleaning mood is the cupboard full of food. Perhaps you begin to organize your shelves by jar size or container shape. Maybe you’ve got sections for of shelves just for sweets or pouches for packets of drinks. But there’s one thing that goes to the top of every food organization list: we throw out expired food.
It makes sense -- we don’t want space taken up by old, perished foods, and we certainly don’t want to accidentally consume them!
But have you ever considered when your toothpaste expires? Have you wondered what might happen if you used expired toothpaste? Well, wonder no longer. We’re ready to spill the toothpaste tea! Read on to find out how long your toothpaste should last.
Does toothpaste have a shelf life?
The short answer is yes. Your toothpaste does expire after some time.
In fact, the FDA requires all toothpaste containing fluoride to list an expiration date, so every individual tube of toothpaste should have its own expiration date printed on the box and the tube. Before you consider switching to a toothpaste that doesn’t contain fluoride to dodge the expiration, remember -- fluoride is an essential ingredient for healthy teeth.
So, if you aren’t already, we suggest becoming a fluoride superfan. Your teeth will be , too.
That then brings the question -- how long does toothpaste last? In general, you can expect your toothpaste to expire about two years after the date of manufacture according to The Dental Essentials.
Is expired toothpaste harmful?
Expired toothpaste may not be cause for major health concern, but you may want to re-think using it, at least for your teeth.
While toothpaste does expire, use past its expiration date isn’t known to be harmful, at least immediately or if you use it a couple times as your new toothpaste is on the way, but long-term use can mean problems for your teeth. That’s because the active ingredients in toothpaste can lose their effectiveness over time.
You will recognize fluoride as an ingredient in any good toothpaste. Fluoride is the MVP of toothpaste that helps fight cavities and keeps teeth healthy. Fluoride keeps cavities away by helping protect the outer enamel layer of your teeth. If keeping teeth healthy was a sport, your enamel would be goalie. Fluoride plays a mean defense, protecting your mouth against cavity-creating foods and scoring against your team of teeth.
Using a toothpaste with expired fluoride would be like putting in a defensive player with a broken leg. Your team’s chance of winning wouldn’t look so good.
Keeping your enamel strong and protected is vital because, once worn down, it can never be replaced. So while using toothpaste past its expiration can’t harm you short-term, it certainly isn't beneficial, either.
Make the most of your brushing sessions by using a fluoride toothpaste that is natural, effective, and of course, within its expiration date.
What are the signs of expired toothpaste?
If you can’t find a clearly marked expiration date, you can determine whether your toothpaste is expired by looking for the following characteristics.
Expired toothpaste may have:
- Thick or dried out appearance
- Separated ingredients
- Inconsistent texture (runny in parts, sticky in others)
- Visible fungi or bacteria growth
While expired toothpaste isn’t very helpful for fighting tooth decay, you don’t have to throw it away.
Here are some creative ways you can use that expired paste:
- Metal polishing
- Removing crayon markings from walls
- Cleaning sticky residue from your iron
- Buffing the surface of your nails
- Cleaning your bathroom sink
Use It Or Lose It!
Thankfully, there is no need to fear your precious paste expiring, because there’s an easy way to keep expired toothpaste out of your medicine cabinet or bathroom drawer: use it, and use it often.
In fact, the ADA recommends brushing your teeth twice a day, for at least two minutes each brush, for optimum oral health. At this rate, a 3.4oz tube of toothpaste should last you around 40 days, or 80 uses. Grab yourself a dynamic Duo of tubes and you’ll be set for brushing a little over 2.5 months. Either way, you are well under expiration limits.
If you find your tube of toothpaste close to expiring, it may mean that you are not brushing enough. You can build a better brushing habit by keeping toothpaste on hand, and making it a treat, rather than a task. We worked hard so your oral routine could feel rewarding by creating a toothpaste so good, you’ll want to brush twice a day.
You can even subscribe to receive brand new tubes of toothpaste every 2 or 3 months, to ensure you never run out! We’ll make it easy to keep your brushing going strong by sending it right to your door. So pick a favorite (or two) and let’s do this thing!
Make the Most of Your Toothpaste
No one wants to pick up a crusty tube of toothpaste. Thankfully, there are some good practices to keep your toothpaste fresh, effective, and ready for use. Additionally, here are a few ways to amp up your oral care ritual and do the most for your mouth.
Store your toothpaste correctly.
To make the most of your toothpaste, make sure you are storing it correctly. This means you should clean any residue around the opening and close the cap tightly after each use. This will help avoid any crusty build-up from developing, which can clog the opening. You should also store your toothpaste in a cool dry place, away from all of the bacteria that can float around or sit on the surfaces in your bathroom.
Only brush with the best.
While your toothpaste may want some alone time, stored away from its other bathroom buddies, it does want to settle down with a nice gentle toothbrush. A soft-bristled toothbrush is just what your toothpaste needs to get the job done well, without taking it too hard on your enamel. Harsh bristles can be too abrasive, so keep it soft and kind with a gentle toothbrush.
Get your floss on.
Flossing is a great way to keep your teeth healthy. Outside of brushing twice-a-day with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing is the best way to keep unfriendly foods from fighting against the health of your teeth. Floss at least once every day, or after each meal if you like. The more the merrier!
Much like flossing, using a good antiseptic mouthwash can help reach places that your toothbrush can’t. While flossing is the best option for more targeted removal of unwanted foods, a mouth rinse will help loosen any food particles that may have snuck between your teeth and gums.
Turning the task of teeth brushing into a delightful daily ritual is the absolute best way to get the most out of your toothpaste. Brushing at least twice a day, with a naturally safe and effective fluoride toothpaste is your best defense against cavities. You won’t just be fighting your toothpaste’s expiration, but you’ll be fighting off teeth damaging bacteria as well.
Shelf-Life of Other Dental Products
If all this toothpaste talk has you curious about the other tooth defenders in your cabinet, let us help you out. Here is the lowdown on other commonly used dental products and whether or not they expire:
- Floss: While floss does not expire or lose effectiveness, mint or other flavored floss may lose flavor over time.
- Mouthwash: Generally, oral rinses can last a few years after their manufacture dates, but generally no longer than three years. Many types of mouthwash contain alcohol or other antiseptics along with a large percent of water. With time, the antiseptic can begin to dissolve. The dissolving antiseptic will leave the mouthwash with that much more water and boost the chances of bacterial growth. One way to prevent bacterial growth is to avoid direct contact from your mouth to the bottle. It is best to use a cup instead.
- Toothbrushes: Bacteria can grow on your toothbrush, and brushing can cause the bristles to fray, which can be harmful to your teeth. It is best to replace your brush every three to four months. Additionally, it’s time to toss the toothbrush and get a new one after any sickness to avoid recurrence.
Your toothpaste can expire, but it doesn’t have to if you brush as often as you should!
Although it is not harmful to use expired toothpaste, you should have plenty of time to use your tube before it goes past its expiration date.
Use a delightfully refreshing toothpaste twice a day and don’t let your brushing routine get stale. Pick a flavor to match your mood and you won’t have to fear your toothpaste going bad. In fact, we know you’ll be excited to use every last squeeze.