How Long Are You Supposed To Brush Your Teeth For?

After constantly dealing with gingivitis and the fact that it keeps coming back, has got you thinking what might be going wrong with your oral hygiene routine?

You brush twice a day, every day. So what could possibly be going wrong?

Upon asking your dentist, you were told to brush for a longer period making sure you don’t rush. When you asked them how long are you supposed to brush your teeth for…

The answer was at least 2 minutes.

Two minutes doesn’t sound like a long time while brushing but most individuals don’t even get to the minute and a half mark.

It’s understandable considering the hurry all of us are in during mornings. but if you really think about it, 2 minutes isn’t a long time.

Just put a timer of 2 minutes before brushing and make sure you are giving each quadrant ample time. First clean the upper jaw and then move to the lower teeth.

This is the most important step towards keeping a pristine oral hygiene and saying goodbye to gum disease.

Do You Really Need To Brush Twice A Day?

how long are you supposed to brush your teeth

If there is one thing that all dentists unanimously agree on, it is advising their patients to brush their teeth at least twice a day. Some might even ask you to brush three times.

You may ask if its even necessary and is the information based on facts?

The answer is yes.

Brushing your teeth twice a day is crucial. That’s because the process of plaque buildup starts within an hour of consuming food.

If you are only brushing once in the morning or at night, you are giving the plaque producing bacteria a whole day to build up around your teeth.

Apart from that, brushing twice a day has been proven to lower the risks of gingivitis because obviously, it helps you get rid of plaque while it’s still soft.

Not just that, brushing once isn’t enough if you have a problem of bad breath. Brushing before bedtime will not only remove the plaque and food particles that chilled in your mouth throughout the day, but it will also help you with your morning breath.

Incorporate it in your life and you’ll feel a change.

Similarly, brushing twice a day will also help you get rid of bacteria that are known to cause tooth decay and tooth infections.

Bush your teeth twice a day and save yourself from spending a fortune on treatments that could very easily be avoided.

Is Brushing Your Teeth Three Times A Day Too Much?

how long are you supposed to brush your teeth

While all dentists agree on brushing twice a day, some recommend their patients to brush thrice a day. It does sound a little too much and is frankly not even necessary.

But brushing three times a day is a very good idea and all the people who do so rarely ever face any dental problems.

The reason behind this is that those brushing 3 times a day are basically brushing between the first and the last meal of the day.

This gives no time for the food particles and bacteria to form plaque. This helps them maintain perfect teeth, breath and gums!

Brushing three times a day is a perfectly good thing and whoever can practice it should do so.

Is The Two-Minute Rule Backed By Science?

how long are you supposed to brush your teeth

The two-minute brushing rule didn’t just arrive from thin air with the exact figures but it is backed by science.

Both the Journal of Dental Research and The International Journal of Dental Hygiene have published research papers and surveys claiming that brushing your teeth for fewer than two minutes and less than twice a day puts you at a greater risk of gum disease, tooth decay and infections.

According to a review of 59 papers published in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene, people who brushed their teeth for 1 minute removed only about 27% of plaque.

Whereas those who brushed for 2 minutes removed about 47% of plaque which is twice as much.

And the longer time you give to brushing your teeth the more plaque you can remove.

So if you are giving less than two minutes to your daily brushing ritual, there’s proof that you are not cleaning thoroughly.

It should be well understood that each side of each tooth should be brushed. From the backs of your teeth to the side of your molars and to the chewing surfaces.

Your toothbrush should reach each area and run in a circular motion in order to remove all the plaque, food particles and stains.

And of course, to be able to reach all surfaces of all the teeth, you need time and for that….

Two minutes are perfect!

Is It Better To Brush With A Manual Or Electric Toothbrush?

how long are you supposed to brush your teeth

There are different types of toothbrushes available. An electrical toothbrush however is the best one out there! It is battery operated and runs in a circular motion (depending on the model) when activated.

All the user has to do is apply toothpaste, turn it on, and let it run through your teeth.

With a manual toothbrush you need to operate it yourself but need to make sure you are following the correct brushing technique i.e. putting your brush at 45° and moving it in circular motions making sure you don’t leave a spot.

Manual toothbrushes obviously require much more effort than the electrical ones.

But the electrical toothbrushes are expensive, and this is where they turn into a luxury. Even though they are better than manual toothbrushes, not everyone can afford them.

If you can afford to buy an electric toothbrush, purchase it as soon as possible!

If you buy one that comes with a timer built in, even better!

But if affordability is an issue for you, manual toothbrushes if used correctly can do a perfectly good job too 🙂


The only way of saying goodbye to dental problems is by brushing your teeth twice a day followed by flossing. However, at times, even when we are doing that, toothache, cavities and gingivitis do come into play.

If you have faced the same and are wondering what could be going wrong, then let me tell you that it could be because you are not brushing your teeth long enough.

If your next question is how long is good enough, then 2 minutes of brushing twice a day is your answer!

You can even brush three times a day to get a double effect, although it’s not necessary.

Coming back to the two-minute rule and brushing twice a day, according to several papers published in renowned journals, brushing for less than two minutes and two times a day can put you at a greater risk of acquiring dental cavities, infections, and gum diseases.

An easier way to achieve that is by setting a two-minute timer before brushing. Put your brush at 45° or at an acute angle and run it in circular motions covering each part of each tooth. You should do this till the timer goes off.

If you can afford an electric toothbrush, especially one with a built-in timer, even better. Now you don’t have to worry about the brushing technique because the toothbrush will do that for you!

Till then, think about why we call it a toothbrush and not teethbrush🙂


Oxford Handbook of Clinical Dentistry

Dental Hygiene Theory and Practice

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