If you're concerned about keeping up with good oral hygiene, you may be wondering how long to brush your teeth for the best results. You want to be sure that you're getting your teeth clean enough. So how long is good enough? Many dentists agree that proper brushing takes at least two minutes. Dr. Anna Guarna, a dentist for over twenty years in Connecticut, goes one step further and typically has her patients brush for three minutes — one and a half minutes on both the upper teeth and the bottom teeth.
Most people don't even come close to brushing for two minutes, let alone three. Three minutes can seem like a long time - especially for little ones. Dr. Guarna recommends using a timer to make it a bit more fun. There are also electronic toothbrushes that have self-timers to help you get back on track. Though it is important to pay attention to how long you're brushing, it's even more important to make sure all surfaces are clean.
According to Guarna, "Proper brushing technique is probably more important than timing." Remember to brush using short strokes, moving back and forth against the teeth and gums, around the surface of every tooth. Use the tip of the brush to reach behind each front tooth on the top and bottom. In addition, don't forget flossing - it's just as important as brushing. If you don't brush your teeth long enough, you may not be getting your teeth clean enough.
If you leave behind bacteria on the teeth after brushing, it can lead to serious problems such as gingivitis or periodontitis. Additionally, according to Dr. Guarna, recent studies have found that heavy plaque in the mouth can lead to plaque buildup in the arteries. Can too much brushing be detrimental? According to Dr. Guarna, it's not an issue of brushing for too long, it's an issue of applying too much pressure when brushing.
Using too much pressure can cause abrasion of the enamel and of the gum tissue, which can lead to tooth sensitivity. Guarna recommends trying to use your non-dominant hand to brush - you may be amazed to realize just how much pressure you are applying.
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Keeping your teeth clean goes a long way toward keeping them strong and healthy. So, how often should you clean your teeth? Well, that depends on the type of cleaning. Here are some good general guidelines to follow, but check with your dentist for his specific recommendations. Brushing and Flossing at Home You should clean your teeth at home with a soft-bristled brush two or three times each day. The brush that you use should comfortably fit the size and shape of your mouth, and should be replaced every few months.
It is important to use short strokes back and forth to clean the outer surfaces, inner surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of all of your teeth. To clean in between your teeth, vertical brush strokes should be used while you are brushing. Flossing your teeth once a day will also remove any remaining food, plaque, and bacteria from in between your teeth. At the Dentist In addition to forming good daily brushing habits, it is also important to have your teeth professionally cleaned.
Professional cleanings are done at your dentist's office by a dental professional. This type of cleaning can help remove hard deposits on your teeth that daily brushing cannot remove. It also helps prevent gum disease. You should have your teeth professionally cleaned twice each year if your teeth are healthy, and more often if you have specific health concerns that effect your oral health. Your dental professional can help you determine the best answer to the question, "How often should you clean your teeth?" Talk to them about how often you need professional cleanings based on your specific oral hygiene needs.
Learn more about oral hygiene in the Colgate Oral Care resources.