How Long Should You Brush Your Teeth?

You’ve heard it time and time again — brushing twice per day is the first step in a strong dental care routine. While that recommendation may be as ingrained in your head as “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” don’t take it for granted. Taking the right approach to brushing will only maximize its effectiveness at eliminating plaque. That means not only using the proper techniques (e.g., hold the brush at a 45-degree angle and use gentle pressure) but also spending enough time brushing.

Taking 30 seconds to brush your teeth before you head out the door is better than nothing, but it’s not ideal. Taking the appropriate amount of time can keep your teeth cleaner and prevent cavities from developing.

How long do you need to brush?

The American Dental Association recommends brushing for at least two full minutes every time. This comes out to at least 30 seconds per quadrant of your mouth1 (upper left, upper right, lower left, lower right). 

However, many people do not follow this recommendation. Per the ADA, the average person brushes their teeth for just 45 seconds per session2.

Why should you brush your teeth for two minutes?

Brushing removes plaque — a sticky, bacteria-laden substance left behind by food — from the surfaces of your teeth. Eliminating plaque reduces your risk of cavities, tooth loss, and gum disease3 — the latter of which is also associated with other medical issues such as heart disease. When you brush longer, you remove more plaque.

A 2009 study published in the The Journal of Dental Hygiene showed the difference a longer brushing time can make. Participants who brushed for two full minutes as opposed to 45 seconds removed 26% more plaque from their teeth. Researchers found an even higher level of plaque removal for people who brushed for three minutes4.

Brushing isn’t the only way to remove plaque. You should also floss every day and see your dentist for a cleaning every six months. But brushing for two full minutes twice per day is a terrific place to start.

How can you make sure you brush long enough?

If you aren’t sure you’re brushing long enough, use the timer on your phone or play a song that’s at least two minutes long. If you’re a Beam member, you can also download our mobile app to track your brushing time! The app comes with a timer that can connect to the Beam Brush* via Bluetooth and automatically log your brush times. You can also set the brush to automatically buzz every 30 seconds to alert you to switch to a new quadrant of your mouth and turn off after two minutes. Using a different toothbrush? No problem! The app also has a manual timer to help you brush long enough every time.

The Beam app is available for download on the App Store and Google Play.

What else can you do to keep a healthy mouth?

Check out these posts for more tips on maintaining a bright smile:

References
1https://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/home-care 
2https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/brushing-mistakes-slideshow 
3https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/p/plaque 
4https://jdh.adha.org/content/jdenthyg/83/3/111.full.pdf 
 
For informational purposes only and not intended to be relied on as complete information, or to be construed as tax, legal, investment or medical advice. This is not a sale of or an offer to purchase a benefits plan from Beam. For more information about your benefits plan, contact support@beam.dental.
 
*Beam Perks® is provided by Beam Perks LLC. Members age 4 and up at the time of enrollment are eligible to receive Beam Perks® and must select their Beam Brush color within 45 days of enrollment to participate. Beam Perks® can be obtained separately without the purchase of an insurance product by visiting perks.beam.dental. Beam Perks may be changed at any time without notice. See perks.beam.dental for Terms and Conditions.

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Matt Wilkes

Author Matt Wilkes

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