How Long Should You Brush Your Teeth with an Electric Toothbrush?

How Long Should You Brush Your Teeth with an Electric Toothbrush?

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You’ve been brushing your teeth since childhood and know the routine. Mom’s right:  To maintain and promote the best possible oral health and hygiene you should be cleaning and flossing twice daily.

Chances are that you’ve inadvertently picked up some bad habits in your technique and may be inadvertently  damaging your gums. That’s where an electric toothbrush can help.  A good one’s designed to promote a thorough method. In fact, most good electric toothbrushes will come pre-programmed with a stop-start setting to optimize performance.

We’ve looked into the common question of how long should you brush your teeth with an electric toothbrush. The general consensus within the profession is actually built right in with pre-programmed settings found on good-quality electric toothbrushes:  Two minutes and you’re golden.

Tips for Cleaning Your Teeth Either Manually or With an Electric Toothbrush

It’s essential that you know how to hold your toothbrush effectively whether you’re operating a manual or a sonic powered head.  Ideally, a 45° angle towards the gum line sets you up for success. You may think you know how to clean your teeth, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t use the correct technique.

Move the brush head back and forth in a gentle circular motion over the front, back and top of your teeth and avoid the action of scrubbing too vigorously. Contrary to popular opinion, this won’t make your teeth any cleaner but will certainly damage your gums.

Fortunately, the oscillating movement of an electric toothbrush takes care of this technique. Nevertheless, you still need to remember to brush and floss both your top and bottom teeth and to uncover all those hard to reach areas of your mouth.

Correctly Using a Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush

Assuming that you have made the transition from manual to electric cleaning you are automatically going to benefit from a more powerful and superior clean. Most electric toothbrushes remove almost 100% of plaque in a fraction of the time that it takes to clean with a manual toothbrush.

Most electric toothbrushes, sonic or rotary, work on the basis of tiny oscillations or rotating technology. It’s this very action that is so effective at gently lifting plaque so that it can be brushed away.

The brushing action is different than manually brushing as the toothbrush does the action for you rather than the other way around. So, all you need to focus on is ensuring that you give equal emphasis to all areas of your mouth and that you brush your teeth for the recommended 2-minute minimum.

The key to getting the most out of your electric toothbrush is to ensure you guide the brush head into all the parts of your mouth, front and back, top and bottom, and all around the sides.

Benefits For Children

Thanks to the rechargeable electric toothbrush, children are developing better oral hygiene. Schoolchildren are more enthusiastic than ever before and getting into a good routine of effective oral hygiene. The electric toothbrush offers a fun and dynamic factor, especially when they’re designed for youngsters.

Also, because most units include that optimum 2-minute setting that professionals recommend, more users of every age are brushing their teeth for the correct amount of time and enjoying the benefits of better oral healthcare.

Impact of Oscillations

Most rechargeable toothbrushes operate anywhere from 5,000 up to 30,000 oscillations per minute. Despite your maximum effort, no amount of manual scrubbing could ever hope to replicate this output. You will also notice that the brush heads on electric toothbrushes are much smaller and more compact than on a manual toothbrush. Wisely, they’ve been explicitly designed to tackle and clean one tooth at a time.

2-Minute Timers Come Standard on Many Professional-style Toothbrushes

You’ll find that most quality electric toothbrushes, even those at the budget end of the market, tend to feature a start-stop 2-minute feature. While daydreaming, you can be sure that you are cleaning your teeth for the optimal amount of time.

Many also will feature a 30-second pause feature which reminds and encourages you to work equally in all four quadrants of your mouth and not give one area less attention over another.

Correctly Positioning Your Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush

One thing to be aware of is that you don’t need or want to scrub hard. You’re not scrubbing the kitchen sink.  Let the toothbrush do the hard work with you gently guiding it into the right areas. There’s no need to scrub too hard, but that’s the tendency. In fact, many of the superior toothbrushes at the higher-priced end of the category will even have a pressure sensor to alert you to when you are applying too much pressure.

Ideally, you want to start with the outside surfaces of your teeth and then gently guide your electric toothbrush over the surface of each tooth for a few seconds moving along from one to the other. Follow that exact same procedure again but this time work the brush head along the inside surface of all your teeth.

After that, you should work on the chewing surfaces of your teeth and deep into the backside before then running your brush head all along your gum lines. Again, be careful not to exert too much pressure. This entire process will take 2-minutes to complete.

Once you’ve finished with your teeth and gums, don’t forget about your tongue and the roof of your mouth. Give them a little attention to be sure that you have a squeaky clean mouth and fresh breath.  Most people don’t realize that bad breath often originates from the bacterial film on the top of the tongue.

Practice Makes Perfect

With the combination of an electric toothbrush and 2 minutes of correct brushing technique, you should be ready to enjoy the cleanest teeth, healthiest gums, and freshest breath!

About the Author Dr. Greg

Dr. Greg's experience in dentistry spans over 25 years serving patients of all ages. He's an advisor to and a consultant to many professional dental projects.