How long should I brush for healthy teeth and gums?

You’ve heard it over and over. Brushing twice a day is required in your dental care routine. Well, taking the right approach to brushing will only maximize its effectiveness at eliminating plaque. That means not only using the proper techniques (e.g., hold the brush at a 45-degree angle and use gentle pressure) but also spending enough time brushing.

Taking 30 seconds to brush your teeth before you head out the door is better than nothing, but it’s not ideal. Taking the appropriate amount of time can keep your teeth cleaner and prevent cavities from developing.

So how long do I need to brush my teeth?

The American Dental Association recommends brushing for at least two full minutes every time. This comes out to at least 30 seconds per quadrant of your mouth (upper left, upper right, lower left, lower right). However, many people do not follow this recommendation. Per the ADA, the average person brushes their teeth for just 45 seconds per session.

Studies have shown the difference that longer brushing time can make. Participants who brushed for two full minutes as opposed to 45 seconds removed 26 percent more plaque from their teeth. Researchers found an even higher level of plaque removal for people who brushed for three minutes.

Brushing isn’t the only way to remove plaque. You should also floss every day and see your dentist for a cleaning every six months. But brushing for two full minutes twice per day is a terrific place to start.

Brush long enough

The first thing you can do is hum a tune while you brush. Nothing wrong with singing the birthday song four times a day! Hum it through at least twice to hit the two minutes mark during a single brushing period. You can even make up your own songs, just watch a clock!

The next thing to do is use a kitchen timer. If you have a handheld kitchen timer or a stopwatch, bring it with you when you brush. This is a surefire way to make sure you reach two minutes. 

If your kids aren’t too patient about brushing their teeth, pin a chart to your bathroom wall and let them check it off each time they’ve brushed for at least two minutes. This is your chance to use stickers, too! Just lay off of candy rewards.

Extra credit?

If you want extra credit, you can brush your teeth more than twice a day, but it’s usually not required for good oral health.

If you eat a lot of sugary snacks, it might make sense to spend more time brushing or to brush more frequently. If you have a history of gum disease, you might want to brush your teeth a little more, too. Same goes for if you have any kind of orthodontia that makes it harder to adequately clean your teeth.

But for the most part, the experts say, brushing for more than four total minutes a day is more of a bonus than anything.


No matter how busy you are, you can spare four minutes to brush each day, along with another minute or so to floss at least once per day, too.

With that said, maintaining oral health isn’t just a matter of brushing your teeth and flossing. You’ll still want to pay regular visits to Connoyer Dental and to reach out to us if you notice anything unusual. But at the very least, spending four minutes of quality time with your teeth every day can go a long way in keeping your pearly whites looking pearly! Give Connoyer Dental a call at 217-223-9137 when you’re ready!