As young children, we’re all taught how to brush our teeth. Most of us continue those same brushing techniques throughout our lives. Unfortunately, there’s a right and wrong way to brush our teeth, and most of us do it wrong.
In 1940, a newly retired physician, Charles C. Bass, described and promoted “The Bass technique of toothbrushing.” After a long career researching and treating tropical diseases, Dr. Bass dedicated the next 35 years of his life studying the two main diseases of oral health: dental decay and gum disease. His contributions to oral health and hygiene were so significant that he is considered by many to be the “Father of Preventive Dentistry.”
Dr. Bass realized that in order to maximize the removal of plaque while minimizing the trauma that causes gum recession, a gentle “Press, Wiggle, Sweep” action was needed. This brushing technique is known today as The Bass Method.
WRONG: The Common “Scrub-a-Dub-Dub” Method
1. Place toothpaste on brush.
2. Scrub your teeth vigorously, back and forth, along the length of each arch for about 30 seconds.
3. Rinse and spit.
Unfortunately, this age-old method tends to leave bacterial plaque in the crevices between the teeth and under the edge of the gum line. Most importantly, the force and direction of this technique causes long-term damage to the teeth and gums, resulting in recession and abrasion of the teeth and their root surfaces.
RIGHT: The “Press-Wiggle-Sweep” Bass Method This technique requires approximately 2 minutes to complete.
1. Place the bristles of the toothbrush along the gum line at a 45-degree angle to the teeth.
2. Press the brush gently against the teeth so that you feel the bristles go between the teeth and slightly under the edge of the gum line.
3. Wiggle the brush back and forth in a “vibratory motion” without sliding the bristles across the surface of the teeth, followed by a gentle sweeping motion away from the gums.
4. Advance to the next two teeth, and repeat.
5. Move methodically around the mouth, two teeth at a time, until all the surfaces of each tooth are free of bacterial plaque.
6. Rinse and spit.
The Bass method is one of the most effective and gentle techniques known today for removing plaque and preventing cavities and gum disease. The technique is non-traumatic, easy to master at any age, and if done correctly, it will help keep your teeth and gums healthy throughout your life.