Why is brushing your teeth important

A prerequisite for good dental health is that the patient attends the regular check-up and prophylaxis appointments at the dentist, but especially at home that he or she ensures good oral hygiene. In particular, brushing your teeth at least twice a day is essential for maintaining dental health. But this is exactly where many patients are (too) careless: They brush their teeth, but put the brush aside as soon as they have the feeling of a clean tooth surface. However, this is often not long enough to effectively remove the dental plaque (including biofilm or plaque) everywhere. With the following tips you can explain to your patients why the length of time it takes to brush their teeth plays such an important role in dental care.

Brushing your teeth for 2 minutes twice a day is ideal

Most people have developed a daily routine for brushing their teeth in the course of their lives. The problem here: If errors have crept into the routine, they persist. Typical mistakes are occasionally skipping the evening brushing or shortened brushing time. As an adult, often only a fraction of the originally learned 3-minute brushing time is left. Be it because the cleaning time has gradually shortened over time or because you have the feeling that your teeth are clean enough much sooner. However, this feeling is deceptive and can increase the risk of tooth decay and other diseases.

According to current scientific knowledge, even 2 minutes are enough to protect the teeth from tooth decay and inflammation of the gums. This is also the guideline adopted in 2017 by the German Society for Dentistry, Oral and Maxillofacial Medicine (DGZMK) on caries prophylaxis. The DGZMK refers to studies with patients in which it was examined how effective a 1, 2 and 3-minute brushing is for removing plaque. It was found that after about one minute 27% of the plaque was removed, after two minutes it was 41% and after 3 minutes only slightly more. As a result, brushing for 2 minutes is just as effective as brushing for 3 minutes.

It is also advisable to brush your teeth after meals. This means that food residues, on which “caries bacteria” feed, can be quickly removed. Without them, the bacteria have a harder time multiplying. By the way: from a dental perspective, which toothbrush is used is of secondary importance. Studies have shown that electrically powered toothbrushes usually remove more plaque than manual toothbrushes, but it is unclear whether this difference really affects the development of tooth decay.

Arguments for 2 minutes of brushing your teeth at a glance:

  • 2 minutes is enough to remove most of the harmful plaque from the teeth.
  • If you brush your teeth for a shorter period of time, only about a third of the caries-causing biofilm is removed.
  • Ideally, you should also clean after every meal so that food residues do not even get stuck in the first place.
  • Cleaning is particularly important in the evening: less saliva means that bacteria can spread faster.
  • Without proper teeth brushing, there is a risk of tooth decay, inflammation of the gums and, ultimately, tooth loss.