Are You Brushing Properly? Toothbrushing Techniques
You've been brushing your teeth daily since childhood. You know how to do it correctly — or do you? Brushing your teeth at least twice a day is a cornerstone of good oral health, but if you aren't brushing in a way that's effective at removing stuck-on food particles and plaque you're not putting your pearly whites in the best position for optimum health.
The Bass technique is one of the best brushing methods because it is very effective at reducing plaque, which can lead to tooth decay, cavities, and gingivitis. To brush your teeth using the Bass technique, hold your toothbrush parallel to your teeth, then tilt the brush at a 45-degree angle so that the tops of the bristles can get just under the gumline.
Use firm but gentle pressure and move your toothbrush in a circular motion over the outside surface of your teeth. Go over the same area 15 to 20 times before moving on to another section of your mouth. Use the same circular motion to clean the backs of your teeth, then turn your toothbrush vertically and use the top of the bristles to brush behind your front teeth.
Finish your brushing session by going over the tops of your molars and brushing your tongue.
The Stillman technique is very similar to the Bass technique in that you hold your toothbrush at an angle while brushing to clean thoroughly along the gum line and just under the gums. When you brush with the Stillman technique, use short right and left brush strokes instead of circles.
The Charter technique is often recommended for people who have gaps between their teeth, gum recession, orthodontics, or dentures. Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle, but point the bristles down away from the gum line instead of toward the gums. When you move over a section of teeth with the bristles, gently vibrate the brush with rapid circular or horizontal motions for 15 to 20 seconds per area. A vibrating electric toothbrush can help make the Charter technique easier.
The Fones technique isn't the most effective brushing method, but it is a quicker method and is often better tolerated by toddlers and children who can't handle two full minutes of brushing at every session. This is sometimes called the scrub method because all you need to do is place the brush bristles against your teeth and move the brush in quick, gentle circular motions to scrub over the teeth about five times before moving to a different area.
Talk to your dentist about your brushing technique if you have motor challenges or if you're just not sure if you're getting everything every time you brush. They can demonstrate the proper technique so you can replicate it at home.