Once and For All: Do You Really Need to Brush Teeth for Two Minutes?

couple brushing their teeth

The ideal duration for brushing teeth is two minutes. It seems like it’s just one easy sweep, but when you’re already in the bathroom, staring at the routine push and pull of the brush from your mouth, two minutes feels like forever. You probably ask, “Do I need to hit the two-minute mark to make my teeth clean?”

The Magic Number

According to a study, brushing for two minutes is more effective in removing plaque, the sticky deposit left by bacteria on teeth, compared to a minute of cleaning. In specific, people who brushed for one minute were able to get rid of approximately 27% of plaque.

When the duration is extended to another minute, around 41% of the plaque on their teeth was removed. It seems like it’s still not enough, but if you follow the recommended twice-a-day brushing, then this should suffice for protecting your oral health. Of course, there are a few exceptions — you would need to spend a little over two minutes of brushing (or at least more than twice a day) when you eat sugary food all the time. Practitioners from dental clinics in Townsville also add that if you also have a history of gum disease or have some dental appliances, like braces, you would have to dedicate more time cleaning.

family brushing their teeth together

The bottom line is if you’re always on a hurry tidying up your teeth, chances are you’re not completely cleaning it. You’re most likely missing a spot or two that could put you at risk for dental problems, including the dreaded cavities.

Now, how exactly will you be able to stand two minutes of brushing? For one, you can have a timer on your bathroom so you’ll have a visual signal for when it’s time for rinsing. There are also electric toothbrushes that have self-timers, so you can use that as well. If you want a more creative twist to it, play your favourite song, and take note of its two-minute mark. When perhaps it hits the second chorus or the bridge, then you know it’s time to spit it out.

Beyond the Duration

While it’s important to consider how long you should be brushing your teeth, it’s more crucial to take note of how exactly you do it. The rationale behind the magic number for the duration is precisely to ensure that you cover all corners of your mouth. Make sure that you brush the inner surfaces of the teeth, including the backsides of the front teeth, the sides of the molars near the tongue, the tongue itself, and the most ignored, the roof of the mouth or the palate. Every one of these can be breeding grounds for bacteria so you need to wipe them off clean. Use the tip of your brush to reach the hard-to-reach areas.

Do note that thorough cleaning is different from aggressive brushing. Laying it hard on your teeth can only do more harm than good. It wears away the enamel and can make your pearly whites to more sensitive to hot and cold. Go easy on your teeth and don’t overdo it.

Brushing teeth is important for excellent oral health — specifically, the proper way to do it. Remember the magic number for the duration. Haste is waste when brushing teeth.