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Do Expiration Dates on Dental Products Matter?

  • date January 22, 2020

Expiration dates for milk and meats are entirely different than those on lotions and lipsticks. With the exception of medication, product expiration dates aren’t federally regulated.

You might have noticed some dental products have expiration dates and others don’t. Find out what you should retire if it’s expired:

Toothpaste - 2 years after manufacture date 

When you find your toothpaste empty, you might rummage through old toiletries to find that long lost backup tube from 2015. It’s not dangerous to use, but after two years, flavor and fluoride fade. Not only will your mouth miss out on mint, but the fluoride also won’t stick to your teeth as well as with a timely tube. Toss it so your toothpaste can live up to its full plaque-fighting potential.

Floss - Never expires

While its effectiveness has no limit, mint-flavored flosses will lose their flavor after 1 year.

Toothbrush – 3 to 4 months

An unopened toothbrush never expires, but once you put it to use, it becomes less effective over time. Toss your brush, or the brush head of an electric version, when it starts to fray—about every three to four months.

Mouthwash – 2 to 3 years after manufacture date

Most mouthwashes contain alcohol or some other type of antiseptic. Though this is the active ingredient, rinses also have a high water content. After two to three years, that antiseptic starts to dissolve. This leaves mouthwash with even more water, thus increasing the chance for bacterial growth.

When in doubt, throw it out. If the texture has changed or it doesn’t look like it should, get rid of it.

*Updated March 2022