Do expiration dates on dental products matter?

  • Author: Mike Mueller

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.

Some dental products have expiration dates and some 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 rummage through toiletries to find that long lost tube from 2011. It’s not dangerous to use, but after two years, flavor and fluoride fade. Not only will your mouth miss out on mint, fluoride won’t stick to your teeth as well as a timely tube. Toss it so your toothpaste can live up to its full plaque-fighting potential.

Floss - Never expires

While its effectiveness is long lasting, mint-flavored flosses will lose flavor after 1 year.

Toothbrush3 to 4 months of use

An unopened toothbrush never expires. But once in use, it becomes less effective over time. Toss your brush when it starts to fray—about every three to four months.

Mouthwash2 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 percentage. 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.

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