Properly cleaning our teeth is very important for our health. On the other hand it's annoying having to spend so much time doing it.

What's the most time efficient way to properly clean one's teeth?


8 Answers 8


"Properly" is the key word here, because the devil is in the details. If you were to go directly to a dentist with this question, they would undoubtedly tell you that there is no real alternative to spending the appointed time with good old toothpaste and tooth brush, not to mention a thorough flossing to boot!

I'll be the first to admit that I have previously been known to do a quick once-over with a toothbrush without any toothpaste, but it turns out that this practice is likely to cause micro-scratches in the enamel of one's teeth--just the thing, as long as you want to help stains and food particles to stick to your teeth in the long run.

I'll also speak for the crowd and say that flossing is the natural first sacrifice that folks tend to make when they're in a hurry, and this is a fairly okay option from time to time, as long as you don't make a habit of it. If you're the sort of person who would otherwise forget about flossing altogether, then it would even be advisable to go as far as setting yourself an alarm to force it into your schedule every now and then.

As far as time efficiency goes, mouthwash is your best friend; the time used for swishing is ideal for multitasking, as the rest of your body is completely free in the meantime. Whatever else you need to get done in that same time frame-- get dressed, use the bathroom, take a shower, throw a bagel in the toaster-- time spent rinsing with mouthwash need not count against your busy schedule, and so I would always make sure to do this.

On the subject of plain old brushing (with toothpaste, or a water pik, or one of those disposable on-the-go brushes, or whatever), there is an obvious time tradeoff available: how long is long enough? The answer is pretty much up to you. You should never skip this step altogether if you can possibly help it, but the exact duration is less important than the fact of brushing (all surfaces, not just the easy-to-reach ones) in the first place. If you also use mouthwash, for example, then it may be justifiable to reduce your brush time when you're in a hurry-- as long as you still make sure to spend the time to do a thorough job whenever you aren't in a hurry (especially if you've recently eaten sugary and/or acidic foods like fruit, sweets, soda, and juice).

The big takeaway:
Dental health, much like dietary habits and many other things, is all about moderation. As long as you still keep up good habits in the long run, you can get away with minor discrepancies every now and then; and vice versa, if you're going to take shortcuts every now and then, that makes it all the more important that you keep up good habits in the long run.

P.S. While I'm at it, here's a bonus protip for you:

Follow your consumption of sugary, acidic, or staining food and drink (sweets, fruit, soda, juice, coffee, tea, you name it) with a glass of uncarbonated water or milk, or by chewing a piece of sugarfree gum! Each of these will help to neutralize, dilute, and rinse away the offending substances, and thereby reduce the amount of erosion and/or staining that can occur.

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    I would just like to digress from your comment about flossing. Flossing is crucial to dental health. I brushed my teeth two times a day for years and still ended up with severe gingivitis and was at risk of losing my teeth. Brushing does good to get the tartar off of the surface but flossing is absolutely needed to get the chunks of food out between teeth and to exercise the gums. If you have to ditch something I would say ditch brushing and continue to floss and use mouthwash
    – celeriko
    Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 17:42
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    Looking back at it now, I certainly agree that my wording in that section came off wrong! I'm still not sure whether I would choose floss+mouthwash over brush+mouthwash, but I've taken the opportunity to revise my wording regardless. Commented Apr 1, 2015 at 18:11
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    The demon had arrived! Quick! Hide your children from the details before the demon gets them! Commented Apr 4, 2015 at 23:34
  • I'd recommend swishing with water instead of milk, since milk contains sugar (lactose), which makes plaque grow on your teeth! Commented Apr 6, 2015 at 17:15
  • Good point, Brett! There have actually been several studies about this using rats and in situ. I can find the links, if you like, but here's the gist of it: First, milk is good at preventing coffee and tea stains, since the tannins will bind to milk proteins instead of tooth enamel. The caseins and peptides in milk also inhibit bacteria from growing, binding to your teeth, and changing the pH in your mouth. Add in the longer-term benefits of drinking more milk in general, and the net effect could well be a positive one. Commented Apr 7, 2015 at 21:04

Here are the methods which can efficiently clean your teeth as part of your dental care:

  • Brush your teeth with toothpaste for two minutes (at least 1h after eating) including outer/inner teeth surface and against the gumline (sweep or roll the brush away from the gumline).
  • Use dental floss after brushing to remove plaque between teeth and under the gum line, where ordinary toothbrushes can't reach.
  • Use mouthwash liquid which can kill 99.9% of bacteria and provides protection against plaque (such as Listerine). Alternatively use water or an acid-neutralizing mixture (one part baking soda, eight parts water).
  • Add some sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), it's used as an ingredient in some mouthwashes for a better whitening, acid neutralizer and plaque removal. Toothpaste containing sodium bicarbonate has in several studies shown to have a better whitening and plaque removal effect than toothpastes without itwiki. There is no harm in using excess of sodium bicarbonate.

    It works as a mechanical cleanser on the teeth and gums, neutralizes the production of acid in the mouth and also as an antiseptic to help prevent infections occurring. (p. 47, Cloth Diapers by Donald C. Cooper Ph.D.)

  • You may also add activated charcoal powder onto your toothpaste. It absorbs toxins, a wide variety of drugs, chemicals and other impurities.

  • Never brush immediately after an acidic meal or drink. Always wait at least 30 minutes. It is recommended to brush your teeth at least 1h after eating or drinking acidic foods/drinks to prevent chance of enamel erosion and dental erosion which can damage your teeth. So brushing too soon after meals and drinks can do more harm than good. See: Really? Never Brush Your Teeth Immediately After a Meal

  • After your last teeth brushing, avoid eating and drink only plain water (maintaining the right pH and °C in the mouth can prevent a dental plaque, which can help saliva to naturally neutralize the acids produced by the bacteria and remineralize the tooth surface).

  • You may use Plaque Disclosing gel or Disclosing tablets which can dramatically highlights harmful bacterial plaque on tooth surfaces and shows the areas where more brushing and flossing are required. See: Detection of plaque build up.

  • If your whitening toothpaste isn't working, try leaving it on your teeth for a couple of minutes before you rinst it off.

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    If there are a lot of methods than obviously not all of them are effective but some aremore effective than the others.
    – Christian
    Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 15:26
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    @Christian There is no one magic fixed rule of completely clean teeth. As it really depends on your teeth hygiene and what you eating/drinking and many other factors. So you've to use your common sense to find what's best for you.
    – kenorb
    Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 15:42

A water-pick is helpful for me, though I don't know if it saves time for the "same amount" of cleaning compared to a toothbrush.



Assuming you have no disabilities and have two arms/hands, you use only one hand to brush your teeth. You therefore have another hand free, which can be used for many other purposes. The main example would be:

  • Chores like putting away the dishes, taking out the trash, loading the dishwasher, etc. etc.

You can also do

  • Exercise: Lift weights with your free arm.

To clean my teeth, I brush my teeth twice a day (manual toothbrush, ordinary toothpaste) and floss my teeth once every other day. I take an unusually long time each time I brush my teeth (about 4 minutes or 240 seconds). I don't use mouthwash or any thing else. Dentists often remark that my oral health is very good.

While brushing my teeth, I do other things with my free hand. The important thing (if you want to optimize your time) is to make sure that you are not distracted and you are steadily brushing your teeth even while you multi-task. This might take a few days of practice.


There is a 3D printed toothbrush to brush your teeth in 6 seconds. It must be custom molded as it contains all the bristles necessary to simultaneously brush every tooth in parallel.

I don't think they have done the necessary clinical trials to address skepticism that it is fully equivalent to 2 minutes of manual brushing, so it may be a risky way to try to meet the twice daily recommended minimum in only 12 seconds. But it might be a reasonable risk as a partial replacement to get the benefits of brushing 5 times a day in 4 minutes, 18 seconds instead of 10 minutes.


I'd argue about the recommended use of dental floss - my dentist refers to it as 'cheese cutter wire' claiming it commonly causes cuts in gums between teeth. I've certainly experienced that myself.

It should take you 4 minutes of brushing with toothpaste if you have all your teeth still, then that needs to be followed up with the small, inter dental brushes (Tepe is the best known make) in between the teeth, at the gum margin both sides of each tooth, where there are gaps. These come in different sizes, but younger people (below, say, 40) often find even the smallest one is too large for the gaps, so they have to stick to dental floss, despite the dangers. It's quite surprising, after a good brushing, to discover small particles of food still being removed by the interdental brushes... follow up with mouthwash if you must, though its not essential, but preferably an alcohol free one. Check also that the mouthwash you choose can be used directly after toothpaste or whether you need to wait a while - products like Corsodyl neutralise the good effects of toothpaste, and toothpaste neutralises Corsodyl, if used within half an hour of brushing. Note that consistent use of strong mouthwash can cause an imbalance of flora within the mouth, causing possible fungal and other infections to occur.

In terms of time management, doing what I've described properly before bed is best -if you can't manage this any other time of day, it'll be okay, so long as you reserve that 10 minutes at bed time for this routine. Bloomin' tedious though...I tend to take the tablet into the bathroom and watch something while I'm doing this procedure, or I'm likely to become impatient and take shortcuts...


My technique is to use mouthwash first thing in the morning and before bed. I do this to reduce the bacterial population as possible as its this bacteria that feed on the food on our teeth and cause the decay.

Then I try (location permitting) to brush my teeth after eating or drinking sugary drinks. My logic is that with reduced bacteria it hopefully means the bacteria are producing the acid slower and therefore limiting tooth decay


Here are the tips to completely clean the teeth at home. - Brush regularly the right way: Brushing is the basic for teeth care that keeps your teeth white and in healthy condition. - Brush your teeth for two minutes regularly.

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Brush at semicircular way. Keep the brush at an angle of 45 and brush the front, back and chewing parts of teeth. Flossing is also vital for the proper teeth cleaning. It removes the food remains from within the spaces of teeth. Food remains within teeth cause bad odor and teeth stains. Regular flossing will help you to remove the food remains from your teeth.

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