Except for medications, the FDA doesn’t require products to have expiration dates. It’s up to the manufacturer to decide.
Floss and toothpaste past-due dates are more of a gray area than say, sour cream. Here’s what to expect if you use expired dental items:
Beware of bacteria
Most mouthwashes contain antiseptics, like alcohol. Though this is the active ingredient, rinses also have a high water percentage. After 2-3 years that antiseptic starts to dissolve. This makes the mouthwash even more diluted and less effective, thus increasing the chance of bacterial growth.
Safe but not strong
When you find your toothpaste empty, you rummage through toiletries to find that long lost tube you bought before the Royal Wedding even happened. But is it safe enough for Prince George to brush with present day?
It’s not dangerous to use, but after 2 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.
Forever minus flavor
Like the Twinkies myth, floss can last forever! Bad news for flavor fanatics: Mint-flavored flosses become tasteless after 1 year.
Timeless if untouched
The product itself doesn’t have an expiration date, but like a nicked pair of pantyhose, it becomes less effective over time. Toss your brush when the bristles begin to fray—about every 3-4 months.
When in doubt, throw it out. If texture has changed or it doesn’t look like it should, get rid of it!