Two Minutes? Does it Really Matter How Long You Brush?
posted: Apr. 02, 2019.
We’ve heard it for years. Brush your teeth twice a day, for two minutes. Most of us can get behind the whole “twice a day” because it makes sense. Brush your teeth in the morning to start your day and at night to wash everything away. But what about the “two minutes” part. It sounds easy enough, but have you ever actually brushed your teeth for two minutes? It can feel like eternity. Especially on those mornings when you are running late, the kids need breakfast, you can’t find matching shoes and someone spilt their cereal on the floor.
Admit it. We have all done it. We stick our toothbrush in our mouth, swipe a few times, rinse and call it done. And we won’t even talk about how quickly we brush our children’s teeth on those mornings. Besides, two minutes is just an arbitrary, made up amount of time, right? Does your dentist just say two minutes because it sounds good with twice a day? It turns out that there is actual evidence behind the recommendation. As you would guess, the longer you brush, the more effective you will be at cleaning the bacteria and plaque off your teeth.
In one study from The Journal of Dental Hygiene, it was reported that the average person brushes their teeth for about 45 seconds, less than half of the recommended amount of time. Does it make a difference? The answer is YES. The same study found that brushing for two minutes removed 26% more plaque than brushing for 45 seconds. That’s a lot of plaque, that if left on your teeth regularly, will eventually cause dental caries.
In 2012, the International Journal of Dental Hygiene, through a systematic review of 59 papers, found that people brushing for one minute removed, on average, 27% of plaque from their teeth. Those that brushed for two minutes, removed, on average, 41% of plaque from their teeth. Which sounds better to you?
Also, it’s important to keep in mind that bacteria don’t just live on your teeth. They also coat your entire mouth’s interior, including your tongue, cheeks and gums. By brushing longer, you have increased time to brush these areas of your mouth, as well.
How can you make it to the two-minute mark? Think of your mouth in terms of quadrants. Spend 30 seconds on each one: top left, top right, bottom left and bottom right. If you really try to brush each tooth and gum area on both the outside and inside of the teeth, two minutes will fly by.
For children, use two-minute times, find a fun song to brush along with or even get a great brushing app on your phone. Most of all, model good brushing for them. If you child sees you taking great care of your teeth, it will be easier for him or her to want to do the same.
In addition to the length of time you spend brushing, how you brush also matters. Talk to your pediatric dentist to make sure that you and your child are using proper brushing techniques so that you can get the most out of those two minutes! If you are looking for a dental home for your child in the Upstate, Anderson Pediatric Dentistry would love to give you and your child Something to Smile About! Call our office today at 864-760-1440.