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Nikola Tesla

Reducing time to brush teeth

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Hello

One of my OCD problem is brushing my teeth which is a long ritual and so many rules which takes me 25 minutes and I have to do it in stages. I've damaged some of my teeth because of this. I wanted to work on this with my therapist but she wasn't helpful and told me what I knew already which is to brush them for 2 minutes. But she didn't help me get to that time. I'm also worried about the toothpaste splashback which makes me panic. I have to change and wash my clothes if this happens. I have doubts especially when brushing the back of the front upper teeth because I can't see them. I once managed to reduce it to 10 minutes but for some reasons it's 20-25 minutes now. It's feels incomplete when I stopped brushing. When I went to see the dentist they told me I still had plaque on some of my teeth. How can someone brush there teeth in 2 minutes and do a better job than me. 

 

Does anyone else have this problem or know anyone that does. How do I overcome it? Thanks

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I feel for you. Sounds like a nightmare. I'm not a therapist, but I'm assuming the reason you have such an extended ritual is your OCD telling you you're not clean enough. If this is the case, try not brushing your teeth for a week. You'll get horrible anxiety as a result, but as a result you'll get used to the idea of not feeling clean enough and realise that you can actually tolerate it a lot easier than you thought you could. 

Why do you think you are afraid of splashback onto your clothes?

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Have you tried an electric toothbrush? They're very non-splashy, and will give you as good as brush as you need in two minutes, with very little effort. A dentist friend recommends them to everyone, ahead of brushing by hand.

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Maybe try reducing the time bit by bit?

If you are unable to reduce 25 minutes to 2 minutes in one go, maybe try starting with 20 minutes, or 23 minutes, and slowly work your way down to 2 minutes. set yourself a timer for your target time, and then let yourself feel the discomfort that comes with ending the ritual early,  but don't give in and don't finish it.

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On 30/06/2020 at 07:24, Captain Trips said:

I feel for you. Sounds like a nightmare. I'm not a therapist, but I'm assuming the reason you have such an extended ritual is your OCD telling you you're not clean enough. If this is the case, try not brushing your teeth for a week. You'll get horrible anxiety as a result, but as a result you'll get used to the idea of not feeling clean enough and realise that you can actually tolerate it a lot easier than you thought you could. 

Why do you think you are afraid of splashback onto your clothes?

Because I'm worried if the toothpaste gets splashes on my clothes then it won't come off my clothes. If I touch my clothes contaminated by toothpaste and touch something else or brush against something else then the contamination will spread and I won't know what's contaminated and what isn't. Sounds stupid but that is what I have to go through with everyday not only toothpaste but bodily fluids and chemicals.

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On 30/06/2020 at 13:45, AmandaG said:

Have you tried an electric toothbrush? They're very non-splashy, and will give you as good as brush as you need in two minutes, with very little effort. A dentist friend recommends them to everyone, ahead of brushing by hand.

I am using a electric. Actually they are very splashy or maybe that's the OCD making me hyper aware of everything.

Edited by Nikola Tesla

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Hi Nikola,

Don't worry about going from 25 minutes to 2 minutes immediately!  Just work your way down, one step at a time.  For today, just try to break one of your rules regarding brushing your teeth.  (You said you do it in stages?  Perhaps skip one of the stages, or part of a stage.)  You're going to feel very anxious about it, but that's part of the process of getting better.  Eventually, after doing this repeatedly, the anxiety will be less powerful.  Then you can try breaking another rule, and so on, until you get down to two minutes.  It might take a long time, but that's ok!

Something else to keep in mind:  When we're suffering with OCD, our fears are exaggerated.  But because of the high level of anxiety we experience, they feel so real!  But just because the fears feel real doesn't mean they are.

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Have you given any thought to what caused this?  Did you or someone get ill & so you didn’t get the reassurance you needed about it, for example?

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