Your at-home oral hygiene care is an essential part of preventive dentistry (perhaps the most important part), but a new study of international dental organizations shows that even dentists don’t know what is the best way to brush your teeth, leading to a call for more study on this important aspect of oral health.

Different Techniques for Brushing

The most popular toothbrushing technique, according to researchers, was the Modified Bass technique, which received 19 recommendations–less than half of those surveyed. The Modified Bass technique starts with the toothbrush held at a 45° angle to the teeth and placed at the gum margin. With gentle pressure on the toothbrush move it back-and-forth with small, vibratory motions. Do one or two teeth at a time, and as you finish each, sweep the toothbrush upward toward the biting surface. Follow a systematic process, starting with the back teeth and moving toward the front. Do the outside surfaces (against your cheek) first, then the inside surfaces, and, finally the chewing surfaces. Most recommend that to brush the inside of your front teeth you should hold the toothbrush vertically to allow better access to the narrow part of the arch.

The next most popular technique was the Bass technique, which received 11 recommendations, including the American Dental Association (ADA). It lacks the final flourish of the sweep up to the biting surface.

The Fones method received 10 recommendations, and substitutes small circular motions for the vibratory ones and recommends holding the brush perpendicular to the tooth. The Scrub technique is considered the simplest for kids and others with reduced manual dexterity. It utilizes horizontal back-and-forth motions with the toothbrush held perpendicular to the tooth. It received five recommendations.

How Often Should We Brush? And for How Long? Evidence Is Lacking

It wasn’t just brushing technique that dentists disagreed about. They also disagreed about how often you should brush and for how long. Recommendations ranged from at least once a day to at least three times a day, with twice a day being the most common.

As far as how long we should brush, recommendations ranged from two minutes to at least three. Although it was generally accepted that longer is better, there were some that thought there was a point of diminishing returns and that eventually tooth erosion and receding gums became a concern.

Researchers stated that more research needs to be done to give better, universal recommendations based on science.

Do You Need to Change Your Technique?

But the question remains unanswered: are you brushing your teeth the wrong way? Look for these signs that you might need to change your toothbrushing technique:

  • Your teeth still feel fuzzy after you finish brushing
  • Your gums are red and inflamed, or you have more serious signs of gum disease
  • Every visit to the dentist means new cavities
  • Cleaning visits take a long time
  • Your teeth are stained

Regular visits to the dentist can help you fine-tune your oral hygiene techniques. If you are looking for a Beverly Hills dentist please call (310) 275-5325 for an appointment.