Should you brush your teeth for at least 2 minutes?

Should you brush your teeth for at least 2 minutes?

Brushing your teeth for two minutes, twice a day: this would be the secret to a healthy mouth. Where do these two minutes come from? The Rumor Detector went to the sources.

Dental plaque, the thin film that forms on the teeth and gums after each meal, is mainly made up of bacteria. In an article summarizing the issues related to toothbrushing awareness, Japanese dentists reminded us that, in a healthy mouth, a balance develops between this microbial community and the tissues of the mouth. However, when plaque takes over, it can lead to problems like tooth decay or gingivitis.

According to the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association, brushing your teeth is therefore the main way to remove plaque. The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth for two minutes, twice a day. The Canadian Dental Association emphasizes that a good brushing should last 2 to 3 minutes. She also recommends the use of dental floss to remove the plaque located between the teeth and difficult to reach with the brush.

The optimal duration of brushing

But where do these recommendations come from? Since the 1970s, several studies have been carried out on the duration of toothbrushing and its effect on the effectiveness in removing plaque. In 2005, German experts therefore carried out a review of the existing research on the subject.

It appears first of all that 30 seconds of brushing is enough to remove all traces of food in the mouth after a meal.

To effectively remove plaque, however, the results of the various studies are less clear as to the ideal duration of brushing.

For example, research carried out between 1990 and 2005 shows that there is little improvement if brushing is continued beyond one minute. Yet a 1985 study concluded that more plaque can be removed by brushing for four minutes rather than one minute.

Since 2005, research tends to go in this last direction: longer brushing allows more plaque to be removed. In 2009, researchers in Ohio observed that by brushing for 3 minutes, it was possible to remove 55% more plaque than by brushing for 30 seconds. However, there was no significant difference between brushing for 2 minutes and brushing for 3 minutes.

An Indian study in 2016 arrived at similar results and noted a clear relationship between the duration brushing and the amount of plaque removed. The optimal duration would be 3 minutes.

Finally, researchers from the Netherlands carried out a new review of studies on toothbrushing in 2021. They concluded that the amount of plaque was reduced by 27% after one minute of brushing and by 41% after 2 minutes.

< strong>Other factors to consider

In publishing its recommendations, the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association made it clear that it is difficult to assess the ideal duration of brushing since the technique used could have an influence on the result.

The Ohio experts also believe that some of the plaque is easily accessible with the toothbrush and can therefore be removed more quickly. For example, according to German researchers in 2005, even after 4 minutes of brushing, there would still be plaque on the back teeth of the mouth. These scientists also assumed that there would be no further improvement after a certain period of brushing, since people would tend to go back to the same places over and over again. Moreover, according to the Canadian Dental Association, in people who do not use dental floss in addition to brushing, a third of the surface of the teeth could not be cleaned.

According to another&nbsp According to an Indian study, published in 2017, the time required to properly remove the plaque could, in addition, change from one person to another. For example, the ability of an individual's saliva to remove debris and their motor skills, not to mention bacteria, would have an influence.

Finally, these scientists point out that, according to the studies they reviewed, people tend to overestimate how long they brush. They usually claim to brush their teeth for 2-3 minutes… when they brush them for 20-80 seconds instead.


It is clear that longer brushing removes more plaque. The ideal duration is debated, but it is important to have a good technique so that the brush reaches the plaque in the deep regions of the mouth.

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