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. It’s important to know which to pay attention to. Find out what you should retire if it’s expired:
Toothpaste — Two 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 for a new one 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 one year.
Toothbrush — Three to Four 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.
Mouthwash — Two to Three Years After Manufacture Date
Most mouthwashes contain alcohol or some other type of antiseptic. Although 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. But, keep in mind that many local facilities don’t have the ability to recycle toothpaste tubes and toothbrushes. Why? Because they’re made up of a variety of materials that are fused together. Research dental product recycling programs in your area for an eco-friendly solution. And remember, if the texture of the product has changed or it doesn’t look like it should, get rid of it.
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