I brush my teeth for 15-20 minutes and it's really annoying. I simply don't know how to force myself into cleaning them for a shorter time.

I might have OCD, because when I clean my teeth I keep feeling that some part is not cleaned enough and have to clean it again until it feels "just right".

To save some time and decrease over-brushing, I already clean my teeth only once every two days, and only in the evening. The problem isn't that I feel the need to clean my teeth frequently, but that when I decide to clean them I simply have to clean them a lot. And it has already went so far that I began to split days into "good" days (not cleaning my teeth) and "bad" days (cleaning my teeth).

Sometimes I can't even enjoy the rest of the day if I know that I will have to clean my teeth on that particular day.

I also have to double-check a lot of things etc. but I am mostly worried about the teeth-brushing because it will probably hurt by teeth / gums.

I would really appreciate any advice or tips. Thank you a lot for any answers!

  • I think that the answer you got from anongoodnurse is great, but in addition to that if you go to CBT you might ask your therapist if a teeth brushing timer would help. I have no reference to support the hypothesis that it would, but your therapist might know if it's worth a try.
    – Lucky
    Nov 1, 2015 at 2:14

2 Answers 2


Basically you're asking how to overcome a compulsion you feel about your mouth hygiene. That is no small feat, especially since you're already aware of the problems associated with over-brushing.

In general, obsessive thoughts/compulsive behaviors are differentiated from simple worries by, among other things, being more frequent, distressing, associated with significant feelings (of guilt, unreasonableness, etc), resistance to the intrusive thought or behavior (you resist partially by limiting the number of times you brush), diminished perception of control over the obsession, being time-consuming, and having a significant interference in normal daily living.

My advice for this is to read about coping with OCD and maybe see a therapist who specializes in treating it. It sounds like you can benefit from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or some other treatment modality. You may well benefit from just a few sessions to help you develop specific coping strategies.

Cognitive-behavioral Therapy for OCD By David A. Clark

  • Thank you for a detailed answer. I will try reading about coping with OCD and if it doesn't help, well, it's time to visit a therapist. Also I want to metion that I thought of a reward strategy, basicly "if I manage to clean my teeth under 10 minutes I will buy myself a cake (just an example)" but unfortunately the compulsion was stronger than trying to get a reward.
    – user1907
    Oct 26, 2015 at 21:56
  • ufrgs.br/toc/images/artigos_de_interesse/… This commentary by the same author might be informative in further reading as well.
    – Dave Liu
    Feb 11, 2016 at 1:04

You may want to try using plaque-disclosing tablets which can help you to see and give some confidence that plaque is removed completely during brushing and flossing. Plus some small dental mirror to check hard-to-see areas of your mouth.

  • 2
    Thank you for answering, but I don't think it will help because I know that a part of mouth is already cleaned, but the compulsion still forces me to clean it again no matter what.
    – user1907
    Oct 26, 2015 at 22:00