Music to make brush to your mouth by
April 13, 2012 11:51 AM   Subscribe

At the dentist today I was reminded again that I brush my teeth too hard and too briefly. The solution, obviously, is a theme song. Know of any songs about two minutes in length that will inspire gentle circular motions? Bonus question: Should there be a different theme song for morning and night? Thanks.
posted by drzz to Health & Fitness (31 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Norwegian Wood by the Beatles is 2:05, not inappropriate?
posted by banal evil at 11:59 AM on April 13, 2012

An easier solution to both problems might be to get a Sonicare toothbrush. No need to press - the brush does all the brushing for you - and it automatically turns off after 2 minutes. My teeth and gums have gotten much better since using it.
posted by mamessner at 11:59 AM on April 13, 2012 [9 favorites]

This doesn't directly answer your question, but have you considered a Sonicare brush? They're great and control the "hardness" of your brushing for you, and have a 4x30 second timer on them, with the idea that you spend 30 seconds on each quadrant of your moth. It's really great.
posted by Amplify at 12:03 PM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was coming in here to suggest a Sonicare also. This is one of those products that once you try it, you want to tell everyone about it. It made a huge difference in my dentist visits.
posted by MexicanYenta at 12:03 PM on April 13, 2012

On preview, what mamessner said.
posted by Amplify at 12:03 PM on April 13, 2012

Did the dentist show you a proper grip? I was told by a dentist that the only the thumb and finger should be used to clamp the toothbrush so that the brush can pivot back when your holding hand gets closer. A closed fist grip is to be avoided.
posted by DetriusXii at 12:04 PM on April 13, 2012

Response by poster: Norwegian Wood is a great suggestion, and I'll look into Sonicare. Thanks
posted by drzz at 12:06 PM on April 13, 2012

Since everyone else seems to be going for alternative method suggestions, I'm going to land on the other side of the fence, so here are a few I think would be pretty good.

Feelin' Groovy - Simon and Garfunkel
End of the Movie - Cake
You've Got a Friend In Me - Randy Newman
Road - Nick Drake
posted by fearnothing at 12:08 PM on April 13, 2012

Response by poster: Detrius: The dentist did mention the two-finger (or finger-thumb if you are a finger purist) grip. I plan to try that as well. The song is mostly to help get the length right without using a timer, but I thought it could also assist in setting the tempo and aggressiveness.
posted by drzz at 12:08 PM on April 13, 2012

Ebudae by Enya

If You've Got the Money, I've Got the Time, covered by Willie Nelson.

I also love my Sonicare. (But maybe now I'll use my Sonicare while listening to Enya.)
posted by BrashTech at 12:11 PM on April 13, 2012

Carl Orff's Gassenhauer is 2:37. Some nice high notes come in at 1:00, which could signal moving from top teeth to bottom teeth. The softish part ends at 1:57, which could signal the end of the toothbrushing, and transition to shaving or something for the last 30-40 seconds. Or just jumping about your bathroom with great gusto.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:14 PM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you're not sure about spending the money on a Sonicare, try the Colgate sonic toothbrush (about $8 in any drugstore) to see how you get on with a sonic brush.
posted by essexjan at 12:14 PM on April 13, 2012

Try this song.
posted by lucy.jakobs at 12:16 PM on April 13, 2012

You Spin Me Round by Dead or Alive. Your teeth will be fabulous.
posted by jamaro at 12:16 PM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Buddy Holly has some two-minute gems. Everyday seems appropriate. Or maybe Peggy Sue?
posted by Mender at 12:19 PM on April 13, 2012

Cat Power's version of Salty Dog could work.
posted by wreckingball at 12:27 PM on April 13, 2012

How about Slow Motion by Cleo Laine? It's even appropriately titled!
posted by at 12:42 PM on April 13, 2012

Final Jeopardy music, four times. If you really need to do it that long.

Doo doo doo doo, doo doo doo...
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:43 PM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Justin Bieber Toothbrush "sounds" like the ticket!
posted by Short Attention Sp at 12:45 PM on April 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Bieber brush? You should never say never

Jeopardy? I think that song stretches the very fabric of time. Two minutes of that would seem like at least three.
posted by drzz at 12:56 PM on April 13, 2012

Sing "here we go round the mulberry bush", except replace "Mulberry Bush" with each item in the bathroom that sort of fits:

- The toilet brush
- The hanging towel
- The soapy dish
- The bathroom mat
- The porcelain sink

You get the idea. Time yourself singing it (right now, if you like) and figure out how many verses you need to hit two minutes, then run with that.

Will it drive you crazy? Of course, sooner or later. But then you can pick a different song -- children's repetitive songs at first, then better songs later -- trying to fit bathroom items into it each time. Soon you'll find yourself hearing songs on the radio and thinking "ooh, I'll sing that one tomorrow."

This will work especially well if you have children to watch you do this and sing along (or at least point and laugh at you.)
posted by davejay at 1:09 PM on April 13, 2012

Best answer: I'm going to take a slightly different tack...

AFAIK the "two minute" guideline is based on a single study, where two groups of subjects were studied for an extended period: the 2-minute group and the ?5?-minute group.

The 2-minute group had significantly fewer tooth problems (cavities) than the 5-minute group.

This is 2 data points. Let me graph it for you: /

A third, implied data point is known for people who don't brush, and that group has far more tooth problems (unsurprisingly).

But the real curve is more complex, and doesn't necessarily reach an optimal point (fewest tooth problems) at exactly two minutes.

Is one minute inferior to two minutes? I'm not aware of a study that shows this (prove me wrong!). How about three minutes? Even better, or too long? We don't know. Heck, 30 seconds might be the best value... or anywhere from 23 to 187 seconds might be equally effective.

tl/dr: your dentist is a specialized technician, much like your mechanic. He gives good, but not absolutely reliable, advice. Follow it with a grain of salt, not obsessively.

OTOH, if you have hypertension, don't follow it with a big grain of salt.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:09 PM on April 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Because I watched Captain Kangaroo WAY too much when I was a kid, I always sing "The Toothbrush Family" song mentally as I brush:

A small, soft toothbrush the round and round way
Will keep your gums health and stop tooth decay
So clean very carefully three times a day
Go round and round, round and round...
posted by BrianJ at 2:11 PM on April 13, 2012

Kiss me, son of god by they might be giants...2 minutes, accordion, kissing...what more could you want ;)
(for some reason, the video is from Total Recall...)
posted by sexyrobot at 3:10 PM on April 13, 2012

Response by poster: IAmBrooom:

I didn't really get what you were saying until I saw that Tufteian graph.

Then I laughed and learned.

But I still plan to go forward with a toothbrushing theme from the suggestions above. My dentist was mostly worried about my hard-brushing ways, I think. Two minutes does sound arbitrary.
posted by drzz at 3:11 PM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

IAmBroom, I don't know which study you are referring to, but the 2 minute rule I believe is entirely based on an assessment of how long it would take to thoroughly brush the four quadrants.

Why do we brush our teeth? Obviously, to reduce gingivitis, plaque and caries. But to understand the best approach to achieve these goals, we must first understand the mechanism by which brushing works.

For a long time (until at least the 70's) there was a hypothesis, that brushing causes a toughening of the gum tissue (gingival keratinization) - in effect, the brushing, through friction, thickens and toughens the gum tissue (similar to the way the palms of your hands and the sole of your feet are toughened by repeated friction and pressure). In turn, this keratinized gingiva, formed a more effective barrier to bacteria, thus lessening/preventing gingivitis.

This theory was overturned in the 70's in this elegant paper:

"Does Toothbrushing Affect Gingival Keratinization?"

Basically, what they found toothbrushing does increase keratinization, but downstream from its effect on the lessening of inflammation associated with gingivitis. So the sequence is: brushing ------> removes harmful bacteria --------> less gingival inflammation ------> increased keratinization.

In other words, the brushing directly affects gingivitis through removal of bacteria, and the fact that less inflammation leads to gingival keratinization is irrelevant to the health of the gums. Greater keratinization does not in any way form a better barrier to harmful bacteria. What matters is not the tissue toughening, what matters is the direct removal of bacterial film.

Why do I bring this up? Because of the widespread belief among dentists that one of the purposes of brushing is to "stimulate" the gums. Nonsense. There is no proof that "stimulating" the gums does anything beneficial - and that ties directly to the brushing time issue.

We understand, that what we want to do, is to remove the bacterial film on our teeth through brushing, which removal will allow for less gingivitis, less plaque accumulation, and fewer caries. IF gum stimulation was also part of what we wanted to do, one could make an argument that we need a specific time spent to stimulate the gums. But since gum stimulation is not part of this equation, all we have to ask is: how long does it take to most effectively remove the bacterial film from the teeth?

To arrive at that answer we simply must ascertain how long it would take to brush all tooth surfaces - this would depend on how fast and efficient your brushing technique is. So the time limit would be specific to each individual. The 2 minute limit is most likely simply some kind of average for most humans.
posted by VikingSword at 3:33 PM on April 13, 2012

I'm throwing in another pitch for the Sonicare, which isn't really all that costly and takes all the guesswork out of it (it basically gives you a little pulse in the brushing to switch front to back top, front to back bottom or however you prefer to sequence). It has noticeably improved the condition of my teeth.

But beyond that whether you use an electric or a standard brush use one with a visual indicator of when to replace the brush and follow that (usually a stripe of colored bristles where you replace the brush when it's halfway faded). What I have read is that the bristles have basically a polishes surface and when you wear that surface away what is underneath is significantly more abrasive to your teeth which can worsen the issue of brushing too hard.
posted by nanojath at 7:06 PM on April 13, 2012

Different type of product suggestion: my three-year-olds use this timer. Bonus: has 20-second handwashing timer also!
posted by candyland at 7:39 PM on April 13, 2012

The two minute rule may have been based on a single study but there certainly has been further research on it since then. Don't know why anyone would think otherwise. Some supporting research is mentioned here: That article also commends the use of electric brushes.
posted by reren at 8:38 PM on April 14, 2012

Thanks for that link, reren, I have now located the 2-minute study:

The effect of brushing time and dentifrice on dental plaque removal in vivo.
by Andrew Gallagher, Joseph Sowinski, James Bowman, Kathy Barrett, Shirley Lowe, Kartik Patel, Mary Lynn Bosma, Jonathan E. Creeth

A close reading of the study confirms my original supposition: the 2 minute rule is essentially arbitrary; increasing the time of brushing, increases the amount of plaque removal, though the effect is stronger earlier on: strongest for 30 to 60 seconds, then 60 to 120 seconds and then 120 to 180 seconds - see Fig 1. in the link. Of note, if we take the 60 to 120 second trajectory, the differential of ascent is stronger for 30 to 60 than from 120 to 180, i.e. you are deriving greatest benefits between the 30 and 60 seconds, and the attenuation of benefit past 60 and to 120 is not much greater if extended from 120 to 180.

Bottom line, past 60 seconds your benefits attenuate, but the descent past the 2 minute mark is very mild, making the 2 minute mark pretty arbitrary - you will continue to derive almost as great benefits from extending the brushing past 2 minutes as past 60 seconds. Note also, that according to this study, even the subjects who brushed the longest (180 seconds) still left plaque on their teeth. So is it better to brush for 2 minutes than for 1 minute? Sure, but so is brushing for 3 minutes compared to 2 minutes.
posted by VikingSword at 5:03 PM on April 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

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