I am asked about toothbrushes and tooth brushing a lot. Some folks worry that they are not using the right brush or not brushing correctly. So here are my thoughts on the matter.
Brushing for the right length of time is the most important thing.
When it comes to tooth brushing there’s some factors to take into account but, how long you brush is king. Absolutely number one. A pretty extensive study was done and it gave us everything we really needed to know about effective tooth brushing. They signed up a lot of people and gave them all kinds of different brands and types of toothbrushes including manual and powered brushes.
Then they gave them different ways to brush, and believe me, there are a lot of methods for brushing. I was a hygienist before I became a dentist and I had an entire class on brushing methods.
Lastly, these folks were put into different groups and asked to brush for varying lengths of time: 30 seconds, 1 minute, 1.5 minutes and so on, up to 5 minutes – can you imagine? Then they recorded how much plaque was removed from the teeth.
The study showed that if you brushed for 2 minutes you removed 85% of plaque from the teeth. No matter what type of brush or method of brushing used. If you brushed less you removed less plaque. If you brushed longer, you still only got 85% of the plaque. So 2 minutes was the magic number. This is why, if you get a powered toothbrush with a timer, it’ll be a 2-minute timer.
Now you might be wondering about the other 15% of plaque left on your teeth. Well that requires another tool that would go in between the teeth and under the gums, like floss, toothpicks or a Water Pik. But that discussion is for another post.
Are you being effective with your brushing? I challenge you to brush your teeth and time yourself. I can almost guarantee that it isn’t for 2 minutes. I used to recommend listening to the radio for one song, or getting an egg timer but if you have a smart phone check out all the brushing timers out there. A lot of them are for kids but my favorite is Brush DJ which plays songs from the music on your phone.
So, now you have your dental goal for the next week and here’s to your dental health.