If you’re concerned about keeping up with good oral hygiene, you may be wondering how long to brush your teeth for the best results. You want to be sure that you’re getting your teeth clean enough. So how long is good enough?

Illustration for article titled How Long Should You Brush Your Teeth For?
Image: SmileAlive

Many dentists agree that proper brushing takes at least two minutes. Dr.Terri Baarstad, a dentist for over twenty years in Connecticut, goes one step further and typically has her patients brush for three minutes — one and a half minutes on both the upper teeth and the bottom teeth.

Most people don’t even come close to brushing for two minutes, let alone three. Three minutes can seem like a long time - especially for little ones. Dr. Guarna recommends using a timer to make it a bit more fun. There are also electronic toothbrushes that have self-timers to help you get back on track.

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Though it is important to pay attention to how long you’re brushing, it’s even more important to make sure all surfaces are clean.

“Proper brushing technique is probably more important than timing.” Remember to brush using short strokes, moving back and forth against the teeth and gums, around the surface of every tooth. Use the tip of the brush to reach behind each front tooth on the top and bottom. In addition, don’t forget flossing - it’s just as important as brushing.

If you don’t brush your teeth long enough, you may not be getting your teeth clean enough. If you leave behind bacteria on the teeth after brushing, it can lead to serious problems such as gingivitis or periodontitis. Additionally, according to Dr.Baarstad, recent studies have found that heavy plaque in the mouth can lead to plaque buildup in the arteries.

Can too much brushing be detrimental? According to Dr.Baarstad, it’s not an issue of brushing for too long, it’s an issue of applying too much pressure when brushing. Using too much pressure can cause abrasion of the enamel and of the gum tissue, which can lead to tooth sensitivity. Guarna recommends trying to use your non-dominant hand to brush - you may be amazed to realize just how much pressure you are applying.

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