Knowing how long to brush your teeth is an important part of keeping your mouth healthy. After all, you want to make sure you’ve cleaned every part of your mouth well—including those hard-to-reach areas. The answer to the how long to brush question is two minutes, but that’s where the specifics of teeth brushing may be a little different.
How often should I brush?
For most people, teeth brushing should be done twice a day. If you wear traditional braces, how long to brush is the same, but should be done three to four times a day or after every meal. The reason for this difference is because food can get trapped under the braces. (These other tips for brushing with braces can also be helpful for traditional brace wearers.)
Whether you wear braces or not, don’t forget to include flossing in your brushing routine. The American Dental Association has even made a ‘how to floss’ video about this important oral hygiene habit. Flossing removes plaque and tarter that can build up on teeth and cause decay.
How can I make sure my kids brush long enough?
The two-minute brush also applies to kids, but sometimes it can be a challenge. Sometimes kids can see brushing as a race and the winner is the one who gets done first!
If you want to make sure your kids brush long enough, make brushing a game. Parents and caretakers can use egg timers, microwave timers, or a timer on a smartphone or tablet. There are also apps that can make brushing fun and make sure they stick to the two-minute rule.
In addition, there are other ways to make sure kids brush long enough.
- Always model good brushing habits in front of and with kids.
- Help kids brush until they can brush hard-to-reach spaces.
- Let kids choose their tooth brush and tooth paste so they are excited to use it.
- Read books about tooth brushing.
What kind of toothpaste should I use? What toothbrush works best for brushing teeth?
There is no best toothpaste or toothbrush for every person, but there are certain products that are made specifically for people with certain oral conditions.
Some toothpastes are made to strengthen tooth enamel, the outer layer that protects the inner areas of the tooth. There are also mouthwashes (and other tips for strengthening enamel) that can do the same; ask the dentist for the toothpaste or mouthwash they would recommend.
If you have sensitive teeth, there are also toothpastes that can help ease the pain. (Be aware that there may be other issues causing the sensitive teeth; schedule an appointment with your dentist to get your teeth examined and get some relief.)
In the same way, there is no “right” toothbrush, though some patients do prefer electronic toothbrushes. For patients with traditional braces, electronic toothbrushes can help reach areas around the braces better than a manual tooth brush.
How often should I replace my toothbrush?
A toothbrush should be replaced every 3 months, though may need to be replaced more often if it is worn down. This issue can happen more often for traditional brace wearers; the metal in the braces can wear down bristles and make an early toothbrush replacement the right move.
In addition to toothbrushing, how else can I keep my teeth healthy and clean?
Regular tooth brushing and flossing is one part of keeping your mouth healthy. There are other ways to keep the mouth clean.
- Schedule regular deep cleanings. Regular dental cleanings are an important way to remove plaque and tarter in hard-to-reach areas.
- Consider getting sealants. Dental sealants protect teeth from bacteria, plaque, and food particles—especially in hard-to-reach areas. Sealants are especially helpful in back teeth where deep grooves and indentations are susceptible to plaque and tartar build-up.
- Minimize soda and sugary drinks. Sodas, even diet sodas, contain sugar which can mingle with bacteria in your mouth to form the acid that causes tooth decay and cavities. If you do have a soda, drink it with a straw and follow up with water, which can flush away sugar on the teeth.