Too Much Toothbrush: Why Brushing Your Teeth for 2 Minutes, not 10 Minutes Will Prevent Cavities

Dentist Blog

When it comes to keeping your teeth clean and cavity-free, the least you can do is take 4 minutes out of your 24 hour day to brush your teeth. Basically, that amounts to 1 minute per side. Not very long at all. However, despite that, only 23 of Australians actually brush their teeth for 2 minutes per session. While that is quite a worrying fact, not brushing for long enough is not as harmful to teeth as brushing for too long.

Although it seems unlikely given how hard teeth are, over brushing teeth can lead to numerous dental issues. The recommended minimum is 2 minutes but some dentists suggest 3-4 minutes in order to effectively remove plaque and food debris from between teeth. However, brushing your teeth for as much as ten minutes per session can cause cavities, not prevent them.

You May be Brushing Away Your Enamel

Although the enamel of your teeth is extremely hard, it is made of minerals such as phosphorous and calcium among other things. This means that just like a paving slab, a boulder, or wall, it can be worn down. Unlike bone, enamel cannot heal, therefore once worn down, it stays worn down.

Many toothpastes are abrasive. This helps them to remove dental plaque from the surface of teeth. However, 10 minutes of brushing, two or three times a day with an abrasive substance like toothpaste will strip away the surface of your teeth. If you use a hard-bristled toothbrush, the effect will be even more severe. Brushing for ten minutes then can cause cavities by stripping away the protective enamel coating on your teeth, leaving them at the mercy of acidic foods and cavity-causing bacteria.

Use a Soft-Bristled Toothbrush and Brush for 3-4 Minutes 

It is a good thing that you care so much about your teeth. However, brushing for 10 minutes a session is not the way to go about it. Instead, purchase a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush for 3-4 minutes per day. You should also include flossing in your oral hygiene routine as this can protect the interproximal (sides) of your teeth too.

Keep in mind that your goal is to remove plaque, the sticky yellowish film, from the surface of your teeth before the bacteria contained within it can damage your teeth. As long as you do this, and remove any food debris lodged between your teeth, your teeth will be safe from cavities. Of course, if your diet is heavy in acidic drinks such as soda, your enamel will suffer.

When it comes to brushing your teeth, more is not better. Stick to 3-4 minutes with a soft-bristled brush, and your teeth will clean and cavity-free. 


13 September 2017

Unraveling Dental Myths about Children: A Blog for Parents

When I had my first child, I was a nervous wreck. Every book I read gave different advice, and I just wanted to be right! By the time I had my third child, some of the stress had abated. I now realised, there were tons of different perspectives on everything related to raising children including dentistry. To help parents, I have created this blog dedicated to unraveling dental myths about children. I am including posts that weigh both sides of issues such as thumb sucking, dental caries, breastfeeding, flossing and any other topic I can think of. I hope you find the information you need to unravel dental myths, but most importantly, I hope you find some peace of mind. With kids and dentistry, there can be more than one right answer, and I want you to be able to relax and go with the answer that's right for you.