How Long Should You Brush Your Teeth For, Really?

Get the Definitive Answer (Finally) to this Age Old Debate!

If you’re someone who is interested in their dental health (and we’re assuming that’s the case if you’re reading this article!), you’re probably familiar with most of the tenets of dental wisdom: Brush twice a day, in the morning and before bed. Floss regularly. Avoid sugar. See your dentist twice a year for cleanings and checkups. You know the drill—pun intended.

One idea that’s a little less set in stone is how long you should spend brushing your teeth. Will a quick 30 second swipe do the deed? Or do you really need to get in there and brush for the length of an entire pop song to make sure all of the nasties (plaque, food particles, bacteria) are banished from your teeth?

The wisdom on this differs quite a bit. While some dentists say a solid two minutes will take care of your whole mouth, others recommend a minute and a half on top and a minute and a half on bottom.

Others say you should spend a certain amount of time on each quadrant of your mouth (that would be your upper right, upper left, lower right and lower left). This recommendation is to ensure the molars and other back teeth get as much cleaning as the easier-to-reach front and middle teeth.

And what about brushing the tongue? Is cleaning your tastebuds truly important for overall oral health? For an oral care-conscious person, it’s a hell of a lot of conflicting information.

So, let’s look at the research.  A 2012 study in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene, conducted using manual toothbrushes, found that there was a 27% reduction in plaque after one minute of brushing and a 41% reduction after two minutes. Wow! That’s a pretty big difference. This is likely the root of the two minute recommendation that you may have heard from your own dentist. Another study found three minutes is the ideal brushing time if you’ve recently consumed a soft drink (in order to lessen the affects of soda’s acidity on the teeth) but recommended that anything over that amount of time is likely to irritate your gums.

So it seems like two minutes is the sweet spot for all you dental care enthusiasts. But how do you actually know if you’re brushing for a full two minutes? It’s pretty annoying to set a timer every time you brush your teeth, after all. That’s where Goby has your back…molars.

Goby’s electric toothbrushes—complete with rotationally oscillating brush heads, found to be more effective than other types of brush heads—come with a built-in two minute timer, to make sure you’re brushing for the optimal amount of time. Even better? The timer further divides your brushing time into 30 second intervals, so you can switch it up from quadrant to quadrant. You’ll get a little buzz to let you know to move on the next section of your mouth.

And should you actually take some of that two minutes to brush your tongue? Yes. Research shows that the tongue can easily trap bacteria and other particles, so give it a quick swipe when you brush.  Two minutes, twice a day, with a little time spent on the tongue—and your brushing habits will be good to go!