Brushing your teeth is often an overlooked process and seems nonchalant, but it is an important daily routine that you need to give your full attention. Some people only brush at night (not recommended!) and some brush after every meal (not necessary!). So how often should you brush?

The difference between not brushing enough and brushing too much reaches far out on the scale both ways, which means not everyone is brushing they way they should. Except for patients with special instructions, brushing after every meal is not necessary and could lead to “toothbrush abrasion.” Over brushing can lead to sensitive teeth and receding gums. It can also wear down the enamel on the teeth as well as damage and push back the gums, which leads to the roots of the teeth being exposed. This further increases chances of cavities.

Brushing twice a day for two minutes provides the optimal teeth cleaning care; and no, brushing once a day for four minutes isn’t the same! Nighttime brushing is critical because it rids any bacteria that could otherwise build up overnight, and brushing in the morning extracts any of the buildup. Spend the time to brush each section, including the back of the teeth, for 40 seconds each.

As Men’s Health states, by the time the two full minutes are up, you should feel like you can’t brush anymore. It doesn’t seem like it would take that long, but often people don’t brush the full two minutes and rush, which doesn’t allow enough time for the fluoride to kick in. Try setting a timer, use an automatic toothbrush that stops after two minutes, or, for a fun way to keep your kids interested in brushing, try timing your brushing to a song. For example, you should be able to sing two rounds of The Star Spangled Banner in two minutes.

The ADA recommends using a soft-bristled brush. The medium- and hard-bristled brushes can lead to over brushing and aren’t necessary to get a thorough and proper cleansing. Replacing your toothbrush every three to four months at the longest also helps the process. With a worn out toothbrush, your brushing won’t be as efficient as a new one. For the best brushing practices, one must follow these guidelines and keep up with the brushing. Don’t forget to make sure your toothpaste has fluoride! Now’s the time to ask yourself if you are an adequate tooth brusher. Or are you barely brushing enough?