How long should I Brush My Teeth?

About 2 years ago, I was reading a dental magazine and one of the articles was on how long we should brush our teeth each time we brush them.  I found the results quite interesting and try to share the information with my patients at their regular appointments for cleanings.  We always tell them that they only need to brush and floss the teeth they want to keep.

I would like to give a little dental information about your teeth to help you understand the answer to this question a little better.  Each tooth has 5 surface, or sides.  They are: 1) the buccal surface, which is the side toward the cheek; 2) the lingual surface, or the side toward the tongue; 3) the occlusal surface, or the chewing surface of the tooth; 4) the mesial surface, which is the side of the tooth that is inbetween the teeth and toward the midline of the face; and 5) the distal surface, or the side of the tooth toward the back of the mouth.

Children, older than 3, usually have 20 teeth until age 6, or 7.  The adult dentition, or teeth usually number around 28 teeth.  The number of brushable surfaces on most teeth are 3 surfaces, the buccal, lingual, and occlusal surfaces.  If a person were to brush each tooth’s surface for 2 seconds each that would equal about 3 minutes of total brushing time for adults and 2 minutes for children.  This is not much time to spend actually brushing your teeth, but is about average for most people.

Now for the answer, according to the article I read, most people brush on average 2 1/2 to 3 minutes brushing their teeth and this removes about 50 to 60 % of the plaque that has accumulated on the teeth.  After brushing for 4 1/2 to 5 minutes over 90% of the plaque is removed for most adult’s teeth.  For children, about 3 to 4 minutes of brushing would be ideal.  After reading this article, I found that my own brushing time was about 3 minutes, now I spent close to 5 minutes each time I brush my teeth and have less dental problems with gingivitis, decay, and other dental issues.  So check out your brushing time and also that of your children and make the necessary adjustments to your personal dental hygiene program.

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