As a rule of thumb, teeth should be cleaned for two minutes, twice a day. This will help ensure that teeth remain healthy and slow the build up of staining. It doesn't matter whether you spend 30 seconds on each of the four quadrants (i.e. upper right, upper left, lower right & lower left) or brush evenly around the mouth for the whole two minutes as long as the brushing is effective and thorough, in particular getting the brush between the teeth and on all surfaces.
To time the brushing, it is of course possible to use a normal wristwatch but, to make brushing more fun for children, brushing timers are available. A number of different designs are available from sand based traditional timers to oil filled timers with rotating wheels. Some timers are one minute timers so will need to be turned over half way through the clean but others time the full two minutes in one go. These timers are inexpensive (typically costing about £1) and are a very effective way of managing brushing time.
If you prefer electric toothbrushes, many now incorporate brushing timers into the design. This can be a 'beep' or other noise (as in the case of some Sonicare brushes) or a slight pause in the brushing action (Oral B). The top of the range Oral B Triumph 5000 includes a separate wireless 'Smartguide' which gives a visual indication of timing in addition to the pause.
Finally, remember that effective brushing means:
- Don't press too hard
- Brush all surfaces of all teeth in the mouth evenly
- Use a good quality toothpase, preferably with flouride
- Don't brush within 30 minutes of consuming fizzy drinks or fruit juices
- Brush evenly for 2 minutes twice a day
- Make sure you use floss, interdental brushes or water flossers to clean between your teeth.
- If you notice bleeding, unpleasant tastes or smells or pain when brushing your teeth, see a dentist as soon as possible.