Are you brushing your teeth properly?

What is meant by Proper Tooth Brushing:

Tooth brushing a dental hygiene procedure which is essential for cleaning the teeth and gums effectively. Proper brushing of teeth helps to remove plaque, bacteria and other microbes that continually form on the surface of the teeth and around the gumline. When these harmful substances are not removed regularly, the formed plaque can lead to cavities, tooth decay, halitosis and even periodontal disease. In order to protect the precious tooth structure from these problems,  proper brushing technique can be of great help. 

Brushing Techniques:

You can prevent tooth decay and gum disease by brushing the teeth properly around and under the gumline where bacteria and plaque usually accumulate. For this reason, there are three conventional brushing techniques you can try to ensure you’re cleaning your teeth properly.

Bass or Sulcular Technique:

The Bass or sulcular technique of brushing involves using the toothbrush bristles to scrub off plaque and microbes from underneath your gums before it can cause gingivitis and also prevent its progression into a more severe disease such as periodontitis. According to a study, among various brushing techniques that have been introduced till now, modified Bass/Bass technique is the most effective in reducing plaque and gingivitis than other brushing techniques.

Steps involved in Bass technique:

  • Gently hold the toothbrush parallel to your teeth
  • Tilt the toothbrush to a 45-degree angle
  • Angle the brush in such a way so the bristles are slightly under the gumline
  • With a firm yet gentle pressure, brush in a back and forth motion or use a circular motion 15 to 20 times before moving to the next area
  • Brush all teeth on the outer tooth surface and then clean the backside of the teeth using the same motion.
  • Hold the toothbrush in a vertical position behind your front anterior 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 surface properly.

Stillman Technique:

The Stillman technique is another effective brushing technique. This technique is quite similar to the Bass technique. However, there is a minute difference. In this technique, instead of circles you use short horizontal strokes in  back-and-forth motion on all surfaces of the teeth.

Charter Technique:

Charter brushing technique is another effective technique which is more useful in some circumstances. Your dental professional may recommend the Charter technique if you have spaces between your teeth, gum recession, exposed roots, or have had a periodontal surgery. Charter is also useful if you have undergone an orthodontic treatment and also in case of fixed partial dentures.

Steps involved in Charter Technique:

  • Place the bristles of toothbrush on the gumline at a 45-degree angle, pointing toward the tooth’s chewing surface or crown. This position is opposite of the Bass and Stillman brushing technique.
  • Gently vibrate the toothbrush for about 15 to 20 counts, using short circular strokes or small back and forth motions.
  • Brush all the tooth surfaces and sides in same pattern.

Brushing modifications

You can use modified forms of the Bass, Stillman, and Charter techniques too in order to get better results. Modified versions follow the exact method you choose, but after brushing an area, roll or sweep the bristles away from your gums. This modification sweeps out debris between the interproximal surfaces of teeth and cleans the entire tooth surface. 

What tools are best for brushing my teeth?

Combined with the proper brushing technique, you need the appropriate tools to do a good job with any task. In general, choosing a toothbrush with soft bristles that can fit in the hard-to-reach places and your mouth with a fluoride toothpaste will do better cleaning of teeth and resistance to caries. It is compulsory to replace your toothbrush every three to four months. Worn, frayed brushes don’t do thorough cleaning of teeth, and older brushes can also harbor bacteria. 

How to tell if your teeth are clean enough?

Two minutes may not be enough if you’re not brushing correctly. All the tooth surfaces should be cleaned and free from debris. Remember the use of short strokes, moving back and forth against the teeth and gums, on every surface of the tooth. 

Cleaning the back side of the front teeth and your back molars too is necessary. Also, cleaning between your teeth is just as important as brushing.

If you’re ignoring these narrow areas or not using an interdental brush, floss, or water flossers, you may notice more plaque buildup or bleeding gums. It shows that you are not cleaning your teeth well enough. Ask Dr. Burns at your next appointment to let you know if you’re not brushing or flossing enough.

Choosing the Right Toothbrush:

With all of the different types of toothbrushes available in the market, you always wonder which one will best suit your teeth and try to choose the most appropriate toothbrush for your teeth and gums health.

Many of us opt for toothbrushes with hard bristles thinking that the harder we scrub, the better we are able to clean our teeth. But  actually, it’s nothing more than just a misconception. The truth is, hard-bristled toothbrushes can cause irreparable damage to our gums, root surface, protective tooth enamel and oral mucosa. Hence, for most people, a soft-bristled toothbrush will be the most comfortable, satisfactory and safest choice.

Also, most dentists agree with the American Dental Association recommendation that people should brush their teeth for about two minutes twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. According to dental experts, a toothbrush should have been scientifically crafted with cross active bristles in order to provide effective cleaning of teeth, with slimmer bristle tips to clean the areas which are hard to reach. It should also have a tongue cleaner, and a broad ergonomic handle to ensure comfortable grip and better reach. Moreover, in case of sensitive teeth, the best thing to do is talk to your dentist at The Good Dentist about your toothbrush options and modifications.