HOW LONG SHOULD YOU BRUSH YOUR TEETH TO CLEAN THEM THOROUGHLY

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Do you need to brush your teeth for 2 minutes? How long do you need to brush your teeth? There are three reasons why we need to brush our teeth. First, brushing teeth removes plaque that causes gum disease and tooth decay. Second, the fluoridated toothpaste strengthens the tooth to resist cavities. Third, plaque removal maintains a pleasing breath odor, and toothpaste improves it. The amount of time you brush will affect how much plaque you remove, yet will not affect how the fluoridated toothpaste freshens breath or strengthens teeth. Therefore you need to brush your teeth long enough to remove plaque thoroughly.

The video accompanying this article shows how long it takes an excellent electric toothbrush to remove plaque from my teeth thoroughly. In addition, the article below shows before and after photos to determine how long you need to brush your teeth

How Do I Test How Long You Should Brush Your Teeth?

I start by staining all the plaque in my mouth with a pink dye tablet. Then floss my teeth using a very effective floss because we only judge the plaque the toothbrush leaves behind. We then brush in time increments of 20 seconds, which I divide into 5 seconds of brushing on each fourth of my mouth. We stop every 20 seconds to see how much pink-stained plaque is left behind. At the time increment, we see no pink plaque left behind, and then we know we have brushed long enough.

The pictures in this section reveal the plaque levels at each 20-second time increment of my experiment. We start with the base level of plaque before we start brushing and 24 hours since the last time I brushed my teeth.
Plaque Before Determining How Long To Brush
Plaque levels before flossing and brushing.

Is Brushing Your Teeth for 20 Seconds Long Enough?

If you watch the video of my experiment, you will notice that brushing your teeth for 20 seconds is not very long when you only spend 5 seconds on each quadrant of the mouth. Surprisingly, this is almost the amount of time people brush their teeth on average if their brush doesn’t have a timer.

As you can see in the 20-second results image, the pink plaque is substantially less than the amount before we brushed. However, some pink-stained plaque is left behind, especially on the lower molars, but our goal is to have a thorough plaque removal. Therefore, the brushing results for 20 seconds were much better than I anticipated but were not long enough for adequate plaque removal.

Is Brushing Your Teeth for 40 Seconds Long Enough?

In my experiment, I then brush for 20 more seconds, which will be 40 seconds in total. The 40-second brushing image shows that my missed plaque spots are only slightly getting fainter. I did not get linear results when comparing the amount of plaque removed. The first 20 seconds of brushing gave dramatic results because there was a lot of plaque that I easily removed. The more tenacious plaque will require a more extended amount of time to brush free. Therefore, brushing my teeth for 40 seconds is not long enough to thoroughly clean my teeth and doesn’t deliver the same dramatic results.

The remaining plaque spots are taking more effort for several reasons. First, the spot on that lower left molar requires a rotated brushing angle to reach. Manually brushing with a toothbrush delivers multiple toothbrush angles to reach those problematic plaque areas. Thus, you need to brush manually to reach all the deep plaque locations, even with an electric toothbrush. Second, some plaque spots are more tenacious than others. The longer you brush these plaque spots, the more likely you will thoroughly remove them.

Remember, I am using an effective brush and floss.

Is Brushing Your Teeth for 1 Minute Long Enough?

We now move to the plaque removal results after brushing for 1 minute. The tenacious plaque spots are starting to get really faint at this increment. If this were your daily teeth brushing and flossing routine with a low carbohydrate and sugar diet, the results would likely be sufficient for oral health. However, that statement assumes you get dental cleanings twice a year, use an effective toothbrush and floss, and don’t have a dry mouth condition. But, I don’t recommend 1-minute brushing because some dental plaque is left behind, and most people won’t meet all the other conditions.

Dental plaque adheres to other dental plaque more easily and tenaciously. So I recommend you leave any plaque behind and 1 minute of brushing teeth is not long enough in my opinion.

Is Brushing Your Teeth for 1 Minute 20 Seconds Long Enough?

We then go another 20 seconds and 80 seconds total in my experiment. The results are almost perfect here, but I can still see those faint pink spots. And for all the same reasons I give in brushing for only one minute, I still do not recommend brushing for 80 seconds.

Is Brushing Your Teeth for 1 Minute 40 Seconds Long Enough?

Now we arrive at the results of brushing for 1 minute and 40 seconds in my experiment. The results are great! Pretty much just what you want optimally. For me, this is the least amount of time I should be brushing for optimal cleaning each day. If there is pink plaque still there, it is almost indistinguishable. I can recommend brushing for 100 seconds with an optimal toothbrush and floss when done twice a day. However, my plaque is not likely as tenacious as the average person's because my home care is almost impeccable. So you may want just to brush the recommended 2 minutes that we will see in one moment.

If you decide to brush for less than the 2 minutes recommended, I would use pink plaque staining tablets and make sure you are removing all the staining from time to time.

Is Brushing Your Teeth for 2 Minute Long Enough?

As you can see from the images of my experiment, brushing for 2 minutes with an excellent toothbrush is the best way to go. You should brush your teeth for 2 minutes as the American Dental Association and I recommend. Flossing and then brushing for 2 minutes twice a day will remove enough plaque to prevent a more tenacious plaque build-up that will cause cavities, gum disease, and bad breath.
Plaque Levels Before Brushing and After Flossing
Plaque levels after flossing but before brushing.
Plaque Levels After Brushing 20 Seconds
Plaque levels after flossing then brushing for 20 seconds.
Plaque Levels after brushing 40 seconds
Plaque levels after flossing then brushing for 40 seconds.
Plaque Levels After Brushing for 1 Minute
Plaque levels after flossing then brushing for 1 minute.
Plaque Levels After Brushing for 1 Minute 20 Seconds
Plaque levels after flossing then brushing for 1 minutes 20 seconds.
Plaque levels after flossing then brushing for 1 minutes 40 seconds.
Plaque Levels After Brushing for 2 Minutes
Plaque levels after flossing then brushing for 2 minutes.

How Long Should You Brush Your Teeth?

Here's what I saw in my experiment. Flossing with good floss is a must. If you get regular dental cleanings twice a year, you should brush your teeth for 2 minutes twice a day. The 2-minute time will remove enough plaque to prevent a buildup that will cause cavities and gum disease.

If you want to see how you can get your mouth cleaner, then you should check out my video and article on the best daily brushing and flossing routine. Everyone should watch that. Subscribe to my YouTube if you have teeth and want to keep them.

Click here for my favorite toothbrush and floss.
Plaque Levels After Brushing 20 Seconds
Plaque levels after flossing then brushing for 20 seconds.
Plaque Levels After Brushing for 2 Minutes
Plaque levels after flossing then brushing for 2 minutes.
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