Have you ever thought about how long you’re supposed to brush your teeth? Probably not. We’ve been doing it so long that we hardly think about it.

To help maintain and improve your dental health, here’s the recommended time to brush your teeth, plus some other mouth-happy tips.

2 minutes—2 times a day

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends the 2/2 rule: brush for 2 minutes in the morning and 2 minutes at night with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. You could brush more often if you like, but the minimum for healthy teeth and gums is the 2/2 rule.1

How do you know when you’ve reached 2 minutes? Try one of these methods:

  • Use the timer on your cell phone
  • Hum or play one of your favorite songs (which usually last 2 minutes or longer)
  • Go old school and use a clock

Brushing technique matters, too

How you brush is as important as how long you brush. The ADA suggests that you:2

  • Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums
  • Gently move the brush back and forth in short (tooth-wide) strokes
  • Brush the outer, inner and chewing surfaces of the teeth
  • Tilt the brush vertically and make up-and-down strokes to clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth

Note: Brushing too hard, or with a hard toothbrush, can damage your teeth and irritate gums.3

Dental health is important to your overall health

Problems with your teeth and gums can affect the rest of your body.4 In addition to the 2/2 rule, the ADA recommends these simple steps to keep your smile and body strong:5

  • Clean between teeth once a day
  • Eat a balanced diet that limits sugary beverages and snacks
  • See your dentist regularly for prevention and treatment of oral disease

A little brushing goes a long way

4 minutes of daily brushing seems like an easy way to a bright, healthy smile. To see what can happen if you don’t brush your teeth properly, check out these causes and remedies for toothaches.

Sources

  1. “Brushing Your Teeth,” American Dental Association, last accessed November 3, 2020, https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/brushing-your-teeth, opens new window.
  2. “Brushing Your Teeth.”
  3. “6 Habits That Harm Your Teeth (And How to Break Them),” American Dental Association, last accessed November 3, 2020, https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/bad-habits, opens new window.
  4. “Oral health: A window to your overall health,” Mayo Clinic, last accessed November 3, 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/dental/art-20047475, opens new window.
  5. “Brushing Your Teeth.”