How Long Does it Take to Brush?


As an adult I should have memories from 45 years ago of my parents or siblings brushing my teeth and helping me with my dental hygiene, but I don’t. My children have those memories but I grew up in a time when the emphasis of dental hygiene had not yet caught on.

I do have a memory from about 40 years ago when a very large Russian lady came to our school. She was thick, strong and from the moment I saw her I feared for my life if I didn’t do whatever she said. She gave us these pink pills to chew on and told us sternly to look in the mirror to see the inadequacy of our brushing habits. She then gave us toothbrushes and stood over us figuratively with a whip until all the pink was off our teeth. It literally scared me to death. Fortunately for the emotional stability in my childhood, she didn’t come home with me. Unfortunately for my dental hygiene, she didn’t come home with me.


I don’t recall when dental hygiene became a priority for me but I now have an electric toothbrush that I use at least twice a day, I floss every night and I oil pull with coconut oil a few times a week. Brushing and flossing every day takes about 6 minutes. Adding oil pulling adds 20 minutes each day I do it but I can easily read a book during that time. Every time I see my dentist and my hygienist they praise me for my great oral self-care. While I appreciate their compliments, I don’t do it for them. I do it for me.


In hopes to encourage more diligent spinal hygiene, I’ve often wondered if it would help patients in my office if I hired a big, mean Russian lady to really put the fear into them. My attorney friend frowned on that idea. The alternative is for me to simply provide enough education for you, delivered with love, that you develop the habit for yourself. The choice for your own personal Russian lady can remain on the table as an option, hired at your own risk.


Dental hygiene only takes about 6 minutes a day. Spinal hygiene can be done in the same amount of time. If on occasion you invest more time doing different types of spinal hygiene it will only benefit you more. The key is to somehow, make it a habit. One of our patients shared with me recently that if you do it for 90 days it will be a habit that you are more likely to keep long term.


What mechanism can you put in place to remind you as you create your habit? Would it help if you put a reminder on your phone? Do you have a daily to-do list? Can you leave your 6-way strap next to your bed and set your alarm for 6 minutes earlier? Can you put a timer on your computer to remind you to stand up and use your head every 30 minutes?


As you are developing this positive habit I will be sure to praise you but the reason you will do it is certainly not for me, it’s for you.  I hope that you will be able to look back in 45 years and be grateful for the positive habit you’ve developed.