How long should you brush your teeth? Here you can learn not only the optimal brushing time, but also other tips that are important for healthy teeth.
I’m sure you were also given some good tips about brushing your teeth as a child.
Parents and dentists inculcated in us early on that you should brush your teeth at least 2x a day for a few minutes.
But: Is this so often heard rule of thumb really true?
I have dealt with the topic intensively and consulted numerous current studies on the subject of brushing teeth.
Read on to learn what you absolutely need to know about toothbrushing time these days.
Traditional practices & tips on how long to brush your teeth
I’m sure you too know some of the following practices and tips that have been continuously repeated for many years:
- You should brush your teeth after every meal
- You should brush your teeth before going to bed
- 2-3 minutes of brushing teeth is the ideal amount of time
- Two times a day brushing teeth is enough for prevention
Certainly, all these tips and practices have a kernel of truth. However, the most recent studies prove that they are by no means incontrovertible truths.
The way you brush your teeth, what you brush your teeth with, and how systematically you do it is often far more important than the actual time spent brushing your teeth.
Tooth brushing times by type of brush used
I’m sure you’ve seen television or magazine ads praising the speed and thoroughness of electric toothbrushes compared to traditional manual toothbrushes
- Does this also reduce the time needed to brush your teeth at the same time?
- Can you achieve thorough results with normal toothbrushes?
- Are there other factors that affect toothbrushing time?
To address these questions, I’ll go over the different toothbrushes and their recommended brushing times below.
How long you should brush your teeth with a regular toothbrush
Almost all of the recent studies I used in my research agree that a manual toothbrush doesn’t necessarily produce worse results than other toothbrushes.
You can also achieve very good brushing results with a normal manual toothbrush. Because more important than the type of toothbrush is a proper, as thorough as possible brushing technique.
If you use a normal toothbrush, you should always observe the following points:
- Brush your teeth thoroughly several times a day against a new one
- Clean also the interdental spaces, for example, with dental floss
- Brush until your teeth feel really clean
This takes at least 2 minutes with a normal toothbrush
Whether the final brushing time but 2, 3 or 4 minutes is incidental. The important thing is that the teeth have been thoroughly cleaned of debris.
How long you should brush your teeth with an electric toothbrush
The electric toothbrush market is very large and is full of technical differences.
The differences between rotary Oral-B toothbrushes, sonic toothbrushes, and ultrasonic toothbrushes are often found in the details, and just about all types clean sufficiently thoroughly.
All electric toothbrushes, in fact, help you with your brushing technique and do a lot of the work for you (instead of circular motions, you basically just need to glide the brush gently over your teeth).
Integrated timers help with brushing time
Many electric toothbrushes give a signal after just 2 minutes. However, this does not automatically mean that your teeth are well cleaned
When using an electric toothbrush, you should therefore keep the following in mind:
- Stop brushing when your teeth feel clean, not when you hear a beep
- Brush properly: each tooth one at a time from red to white and without putting too much pressure on your gums
- Even with electric toothbrushes, use additional floss or a mouthwash for support
If you’re thinking about getting an electric toothbrush, here’s a special article on the subject: the best electric toothbrushes in test.
How long you should clean your teeth with an oral irrigator
In general, oral irrigators should only supplement conventional teeth cleaning, and in no way replace it – much like flossing.
- This means that you can use an oral irrigator after cleaning your teeth to rid the spaces between them of bacteria.
- Consequently, the use of an oral irrigator is associated with more time spent cleaning your teeth.
Skilled users do not need more than 1-2 minutes for the entire set of teeth.
How exactly these devices work and for whom they are best suited, read here: Oral irrigators in test.
What other toothbrushes and care products are available and how long should I use them?
The classic three of dental care are toothbrush, floss, and mouthwash.
If you use all three products regularly and thoroughly, you can give your teeth the best possible protection.
Just brushing with a toothbrush is not enough
On the other hand, a normal toothbrush alone only reaches 70 percent of the tooth surface.
After “normal” brushing with a toothbrush of your choice, you should floss (or use an interdental brush) to clean the spaces between your teeth.
So, in addition to the usual 2-3 minutes of brushing time, you should allow some time for cleaning the spaces between your teeth – with dental floss, oral irrigators, or alternatives like interdental brushes.
When you’ve finished flossing, you should still rinse your mouth thoroughly with a mouthwash
This will eliminate more bacteria and protect your teeth against new deposits. In addition, the mouthwash strengthens your gums and thus prevents bleeding gums & gum recession.
You can also ensure healthy teeth away from the sink
In addition to the time you should invest in brushing your teeth, there are other important factors – some of which are more important than the actual time spent brushing your teeth.
Almost all studies show that thorough brushing is more effective than prolonged brushing.
Those who monotonously scrub at the same spot over and over again do not clean as thoroughly as someone who is systematic in their toothbrushing.
- Most damage is caused by deposits on the teeth. Who thoroughly removes the plaque layer avoids worse and ensures white teeth.
- Dentists say plaque takes between 24 and 36 hours to begin damaging teeth. So if you regularly remove the plaque coating, you protect your teeth.
Individual brushing behavior
Because each person is different, it is therefore also very difficult to establish general rules for brushing your teeth.
- Some people, for example, are prone to rapid buildup, while others hardly produce any tartar.
- Some people also have very straight and even teeth, while others have large spaces & gaps between their teeth.
All these factors affect the timing and technique of your oral hygiene!
Search and find the brushing technique and toothbrushing time that suits you and that gives the best results for you. When in doubt, try improving your brushing technique first, rather than optimizing your brushing time.
Is brushing your teeth for too long harmful?
Almost all dentists and experts advise against brushing your teeth for too long.
If normal toothbrushing time is exceeded, tooth enamel & gums can be affected by over-exposure.
- Also, you should always be careful not to apply too much pressure when brushing your teeth, so as not to cause exposed tooth necks
- These lead to cold sensitivity & sensitive teeth – and in many cases can no longer be reversed.
The best way is to clean gently and systematically. Once the plaque layer is removed, all further tooth brushing is rather detrimental.
Conclusion: How long should you brush your teeth?
Almost all research on the best way to care for your teeth agrees that there is still a lot of research to be done on the topic.
In a very interesting article in Time entitled “Planless in the oral cavity – How do you brush your teeth properly?” the author comes to the conclusion:
“We let three-legged probes land on distant comets, unmask tiny particles with giant accelerators, and cars can now park themselves. But we haven’t yet figured out how to brush our teeth properly.”
Remember the basic rules & value correct technique
Since even the proven experts disagree on how long you should brush your teeth, I can’t give you a secret recipe either
But if you follow these points, you can be sure to do everything that is currently within your control:
- Brush your teeth thoroughly at least two to three times a day
- Use dental floss and mouthwash in addition to your toothbrush
- Check your brushing success with appropriate chewable tablets *
- These tablets stain any remaining debris to check
- Improve your brushing technique until no discoloration remains
If you would like to read more on the subject of oral hygiene and dental care and are interested in general advice & tips, I can recommend these guides for further reading.