Why is the recommended brushing time the same regardless of the type of toothbrush?



My 10 year old basically asked me this when I replaced his manual toothbrush with an electric one, and I had no answer. If a powered toothbrush does more brushes per second than a manual one then shouldn’t you have to bush your teeth for less time? Or if 2 minutes is recommended for the electric one then shouldn’t you need more time with a manual?

In: Technology

One of the useful things that toothpaste usually contains is fluoride, which can fill microscopic holes in your tooth enamel and stop them from growing into larger and more problematic holes. The two minute thing is more about letting the fluoride have time to be in contact with your teeth and do it’s thing, and less about a particular amount of mechanical action from the tooth brush bristles.

This is also why mouthwashes say not to eat or drink for a while after using them. They usually contain fluoride as well, and if you don’t eat/drink/ rinse with water after the mouthwash, it leaves some fluoride on your teeth and gives it longer to work.


Although the fluoride is important, the conditions necessary for fluoride to do its thing means that it’s more important to expose your teeth *often* rather than for a single long time.

The recommended 2 minutes is more about making sure that you brush *all* of your teeth for enough time to scrub off the plaque. Consider how you brush: you hit different “zones” in your mouth, focusing on a couple teeth at a time. Two minutes of brushing across your whole mouth works out to be only a little bit of brushing on each tooth.