The Simplest Tooth Brushing Strategy Ever


As stated by us and other oral health sources we respect and admire, every time your brush your teeth you should spend at least 2 minutes doing so. This amount of time ensures that all your teeth and their surfaces receive the proper amount of time and attention while being scrubbed of debris and harmful bacteria. There are several ways to ensure you achieve this time milestone on a daily basis (multiple times if you are taking care of your teeth as you should), including; electronic timers, smartphones and simply counting to 120 seconds while you admire yourself in front of the mirror.

All of these are well and good unless you find yourself camping in the bush, missing your phone or simply realizing that you have the attention span of a squirrel. It is a particular challenge for parents to get their children who are just beginning to brush on their own to do so for long enough periods of time consistently while not neglecting certain parts of their mouth and teeth.

This begs the question; “there must be a simple way to ensure that each tooth and all its surfaces receive the required level of cleaning while brushing my teeth for exactly 2 minutes”. You, you smart cookie you, are absolutely correct. We like to call it the ‘10 Second Rule’ and it ensures that you perform a perfect brush each and every time you step up to the faucet.

The Requirements

You will need the following in order to become the best tooth brusher you can:

  • A soft bristled toothbrush that has not been used for more than 3 months

  • The toothpaste of your choice (for those with sensitive teeth)

  • Good tooth brushing technique

  • Water for rinsing your mouth and cleaning your toothbrush

  • The ability to count to 10 repeatedly

If you possess all of the above, congratulations! You are ready to receive the simplest tooth brushing tip to execute ever.

The Quadrants

As you may or may not know, your mouth can be divided into 4 quadrants. You have a top row of teeth and gums as well as one row along the bottom. This can and is further divided into two each by separating them vertically down the centre of your mouth, thereby creating four quadrants or zones to focus on when brushing. Given that the focus of this post is timing, each quadrant requires 30 seconds (the 120 seconds in 2 minutes divided by 4 dental quadrants) of focused and consistent brushing.

The 4 quadrants of your mouth

The 4 quadrants of your mouth

The Surfaces

Although there is official medical terminology used to describe the various surfaces of your teeth, buccal and lingual being examples, for our purposes here we will only think of these tooth surfaces as sides. Each tooth in your mouth at the moment has 3 exposed sides that require consistent brushing; the top (the part of your teeth used for chewing), the outside (the part of the teeth that faces the insides of your cheeks), and the inside (the part of your teeth that faces your tongue). If you are missing teeth, the parts of the teeth surrounding that gap must also be considered. More on this later.

The surfaces of your teeth

The surfaces of your teeth

In order to ensure that each tooth in each quadrant receives a good cleaning during the minimum of 2 minutes spent brushing, we present the final part to our ‘10 Second Rule’. It just so happens that the 30 seconds to be spent in each quadrant can be perfectly broken down into three 10 second periods for each side of your teeth; the top or chewing surfaces, the outside part facing the gums and the inside parts facing your tongue.

Putting it all Together

Based on the above, all you have to do to ensure a good quality cleaning every time you brush is to start in one of the quadrants in your mouth and brush the outside parts of the teeth there counting from 1 all the way up to 10 seconds, the top parts of those teeth for another 10 whole seconds and finally the inside parts of those same teeth for a final 10 seconds. Once this has been done, move on to the next quadrant and repeat the 10 second drill 3 more times for each respective surface. Finish up the final two quadrants the exact same way.

All in all, you will only have to count to 10 seconds, doing so 12 times (3 in each quadrant) in total as you brush. You will only have to focus on one quadrant at a time, making this an early morning focusing exercise that even the youngest members of our family can master. We recommend you use the ‘1 steamboat, 2 steamboat’ counting strategy to ensure your counting actually represents full seconds.

For toddlers or older individuals with missing teeth, be sure to return to these areas once the 2 minutes have transpired everywhere else in your mouth so as to clean these exposed surfaces as well. To top off the perfect brush, don’t forget to use a tongue cleaner or scraper to clean your tongue and floss at least once daily. Try the ‘10 Second Rule’ out and let us know what you think. Thanks!

Photo: Oilers Nation

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