Except for medications, the FDA doesn’t require products to have expiration dates. It’s up to the manufacturer to decide.
Floss and mouthwash past-due dates are more of a gray area than say, sour cream. But do you stash or trash expired dental items? This may make your decision easier:
Safe but not strong
When your 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.
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 leaves the mouthwash with even more water, thus increasing the chance of bacterial growth.
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 it tastes, smells or feels different than it should, get rid of it!