One third of adults in the United States are under-brushing or over-brushing their teeth, according to Unum. In an August online poll of 1,200 working adults, 17% reported brushing their teeth for about a minute, or half the time recommended by dental experts. Also, 13% said they brush about four minutes, or twice the recommended time.
“These results suggest people could benefit from more dental health education,” said Unum dental director Jim Di Marino, DMD. “The general recommendation is brushing twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste.”
Researchers at the Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam say that brushing twice a day for two minutes can remove enough plaque and food debris to maintain dental health for the average adult. Plaque include oral bacteria that can cause gum disease and tooth decay.
Also, some dental experts warn about over-brushing. Brushing too hard or for too long may damage tooth enamel and irritate gums. Ideally, brushing times should be around two minutes unless otherwise instructed by a dentist or healthcare professional.
“It is important to note that brushing alone cannot keep a mouth healthy,” said Di Marino. “Proper oral-care routines should also include flossing and regular dental visits twice a year to prevent major dental health problems.”
The cost of preventive dental services may stop some people from regularly visiting a dentist, Unum says, but dental insurance can help reduce those costs. Group dental plans purchased through the workplace typically cover the costs of cleanings and other preventive services.