Compare and contrast tooth brushing techniques

You know oral health is necessary for your smile and overall well being, but how will you know you are taking care of your dental health? We will help answer all your questions about brushing your teeth, but did you know there is not just one way to brush your teeth.  Dental disease is preventable, and keeping your teeth clean is crucial. Brushing twice a day is your first defense, but inadequate brushing allows harmful plaque to cause tooth decay and gum disease. Let’s explore effective tooth brushing techniques for better oral care. 

There are 4 different tooth brushing techniques that have been recommended by dentists around the world as well as other types of dental professionals.  Each of the 4 different tooth brushing techniques address and tackle various dental health concerns.   The types of brushing are not like the standard approach of just scrubbing, which you probably do yourself.  The standard brushing technique is damaging your teeth and gum structure. 

What are the various tooth brushing technique names?

  1. Stillman’s Tooth Brushing Method
  2. Bass Tooth Brushing Method
  3. Charter’s Tooth Brushing Method
  4. Circular Tooth Brushing Method

How Long Should You Brush Your Teeth?

Effective brushing requires a minimum of two minutes, which may feel lengthy, especially for children. To make it more enjoyable, you can use a timer as a fun tool. Certain electric toothbrushes even have built-in timers to encourage the full two-minute brushing routine.

Can You Brush Your Teeth Too Much?

Brushing for more than two minutes is safe, as long as you apply firm yet gentle pressure. Excessive pressure can harm enamel and gum tissue, resulting in tooth sensitivity and gum irritation. Experiment by brushing with your non-dominant hand to gauge the variation in pressure applied to your teeth.

What tooth brushing techniques should I be using?

To prevent and control gum disease, it’s important to brush thoroughly around and beneath the gum line, where bacteria and plaque tend to accumulate. Here are four of the best brushing techniques you can employ to ensure effective cleaning of your teeth.

Stillman’s Brushing Technique

Indications for use: for patients with gingivitis; to remove plaque form above the gum line.

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.  The Stillman method of brushing is akin to the Bass technique, but it may offer improved removal of debris between teeth. It is particularly beneficial for individuals with gingivitis. To apply this method, follow the Bass technique and, in addition to vibrating the brush beneath the gum line, gently move it towards the chewing surface of the tooth using short back-and-forth strokes. Half of the bristles should cover the gums, while the other half should be in contact with the tooth surface.

Bass Brushing Method

Indications for use: for patients with periodontitis; to remove plaque from below the gum line.

To effectively prevent and control gum disease, it is essential to brush diligently around and beneath the gum line where bacteria and plaque tend to gather. This technique is particularly beneficial for individuals with periodontitis. The Bass method of brushing involves positioning the toothbrush bristles under the gums to scrub away plaque before it solidifies into tartar and triggers gum disease.

  • Hold the toothbrush parallel to your teeth
  • with the bristles toward the gums
  • Tilt the brush to a 45-degree angle and move the bristles slightly under the gum line
  • 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
  • Then continue the same technique on the tongue side.
  • To brush the insides of the front teeth, hold the toothbrush in a vertical position and use the bristles on the toe of the brush, but make sure they are getting under the gum tissue.

Circular Tooth Brushing Method

Indications: for young patients; patients with poor manual dexterity; in combination with any other brushing method; for healthy patients instead of “scrubbing” method.

Method/Technique: Hold the bristles at a 45° angle towards the gum line. Utilize small and gentle circular brush strokes, ensuring coverage of each tooth surface. Continue until all surfaces have been effectively cleaned, overlapping the strokes as needed.

Charter’s Tooth Brushing Technique

Indications for use: for patients with orthodontic braces.

If you have gaps between your teeth, gum recession, exposed roots, or have undergone periodontal surgery, your dentist may suggest the Charter method. This technique is also beneficial 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, and then reposition the brush to the next area.
  • Brush all your teeth in the same pattern, brushing all tooth surfaces and sides.