What techniques should I be using?
You can prevent and control gum disease by brushing around and under the gumline where bacteria and plaque accumulate. There are three conventional brushing techniques you can try to ensure you're cleaning your teeth well.
1. Bass or Sulcular Technique
The Bass method of brushing involves using the toothbrush bristles to scrub off plaque— commonly known as biofilm — from underneath your gums before it can cause gingivitis. A 2018 systemic review and analysis of various brushing techniques found that the modified Bass/Bass technique was the most effective in reducing plaque and gingivitis than the horizontal method.
- Hold the toothbrush parallel to your teeth
- Tilt the brush to a 45-degree angle
- Angle the brush so the bristles are slightly under the gumline
- With a firm yet gentle pressure, brush back and forth or use a circular motion 15 to 20 times before moving to the next area
- Brush all teeth on the outer surface and then clean the backside of the teeth using the same motions
- Hold the toothbrush in a vertical position behind your front teeth and brush up and down, using the bristles on the toe of the brush
- Brush the chewing surface of the molars and brush your tongue
2. Stillman Technique
The Stillman brushing technique is similar to the Bass technique. However, instead of circles, you use short horizontal strokes back-and-forth on all surfaces of the teeth.
3. Charter Technique
Your dentist may recommend the Charter method if you have spaces between your teeth, gum recession, exposed roots, or have had periodontal surgery. Charter is also useful if you have orthodontic appliances or fixed partial dentures.
- Place the bristles on the gumline at a 45-degree angle, pointing toward the tooth's chewing surface or crown. This position is the opposite of the Bass and Stillman technique.
- Gently vibrate the brush for 15 to 20 counts, using short circular strokes or small back and forth motions.
- Brush all your teeth in the same pattern, brushing all tooth surfaces and sides.