What is The Bass Toothbrushing Technique?

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Many of us grow up learning how to brush our teeth from our parents, dentist or even the media.

Did you even know there are various toothbrushing techniques? Or did you just know one technique, or at best, invented your own technique, brushing at random?

So if you are wondering about my title, “What is the Bass Toothbrushing Technique?”, I will share today 3 basic toothbrushing that are commonly known.

Basic Toothbrushing Techniques

1. Bass Toothbrushing Technique

With this technique, you place the toothbrush parallel to your teeth with the bristles angling at 45 degrees downwards toward your gum line.

With firm but gentle pressure, and while maintaining the bristles under the gum tissue, wiggle or vibrate in small circular motion 15 to 20 times, before moving to the next area. The brush should cover two to three teeth at a time.

Do this until you complete the outer surfaces, then do the same to the inner surfaces of the teeth.

Brush as per normal for the 4 sets of molars.


  • Effective for removing plaque.
  • Easy to learn.
  • Recommended for people with no periodontal disease


  • Time consuming.
  • Require good manipulative skills.

Here is a video showing the Bass Toothbrushing Technique.

2. Stillman Toothbrushing Technique

The Stillman method of brushing is similar to the Bass technique. However, it may help clean more debris from between the teeth. The Indian Dental Association provides some helpful diagrams.

To implement this method, follow the Bass technique, but after vibrating the brush under the gum area, move the brush toward the chewing surface of the tooth and use short back-and-forth strokes.


  • Good Gingival cleaning.


  • You need good motor skills and a soft toothbrush.

3. Charter Toothbrushing Technique

If you have spaces between your teeth, or see exposed root surfaces or have had periodontal surgery or gum recession, your dentist may recommend the Charter method of brushing.

This technique is also effective for people with dental works or fixed partial dentures.

Place the bristles on the gum line at a 45-degree angle pointing toward (upwards) the chewing surface or crown of the tooth. 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.

Move around the mouth in the same pattern, brushing all tooth surfaces, both inner and outer, as well as the chewing surfaces of the molars.


  • Good for people wearing braces, or have gaps in their teeth.
  • Suitable for people after periodontal surgery.


  • The toothbrush does not engage the gums to remove the bacteria effectively.


What We Are Doing Wrong With Our Daily Toothbrushing

1. Not Changing The Toothbrush Often.

How many of us diligently change our toothbrushes like once in 3 months? I doubt you do, because I am guilty of this too. One method is to mark the “to-throw” date on the toothbrush. When the date comes around, you can just ditch the toothbrush for a new one.

2. Brushing With Hard Bristles Toothbrush.

If you think that the harder the bristles of the toothbrush is, the more you can get the plaque out. This is nearly the opposite of what it should be. Soft and round bristles are far more effective in getting rid of the plaque on the surface of your teeth and near the gum line.

By brushing with hard bristles, you have more chances of damaging the gums which are soft in nature and destroying the enamel of your teeth unknowingly.

3. Using a Systematic Way to Brush.

Some of us brush left to right across the teeth surfaces, but the correct way is to do circular motions on each tooth, and move tooth by tooth. We should brush in a systematic way starting from one end of our mouth, focusing on one sector of our mouth at a time, With this, all teeth surfaces will be covered.

4. Using Way Too Much Toothpaste.

Only a pea sized toothpaste is sufficient on our teeth, but we have been so sold by marketing pictures to line the full length of our toothbrush with toothpaste. Do you brush with that much toothpaste?

WHat is The Bass Toothbrushing Technique?

Background of Bass Toothbrushing Technique

Charles Cassedy Bass (1875–1975) was the doctor who invented the bass toothbrushing technique. You can read his story here.

Bass carried out extensive investigation and experimentation to determine the best means of using toothbrushes and dental floss for effective prevention of the important diseases of the mouth.

He had himself experienced gum diseases, and was told by the dentist to extract all his teeth! Oh mine! Determined not to lose any more of his teeth, he wanted to find out whether the bristles of a toothbrush play a part.

He gathered his extracted teeth and evaluated them under the microscope and looked into his mouth to find the answer. He began to pluck out extra bristles, brush his teeth, and then examine them under the microscope multiple times, until he was satisfied on the lowest bacteria count left on the best number of bristles left on the toothbrush.

The results?

A tooth brush that has to be “six inches long, 7/16 of an inch wide, and three rows of bristles, six tufts per row, 80 bristles per tuft, and each bristle 0.007 inch in diameter with a rounded end”.

That was his precise brushing instrument! So amazing! Did you know that Dr. Bass died at 100 years of age with all his teeth intact? This proved that the Bass Toothbrushing technique worked.

How Effective Is The Bass Toothbrushing Technique?

It has been shown to remove plaque much more effectively without hurting our gums, because the brushing actions protect the gums better than other types of harsh tooth brushing. A study conducted concluded that “plaque removal efficacy was significantly high with the Bass Toothbrushing Technique”.

The Bass Toothbrushing Technique does not require much strength, but just a bit of practice in holding the toothbrush gently at an angle.

Which Toothbrush Can I Use With The Bass Toothbrushing Technique?

Almost any soft or medium toothbrush can be used with the Bass Toothbrushing Technique. You may feel uncomfortable to have that many bristles wriggling at your gums. However, there are specially designed Bass Toothbrushes that are close to what the original dimensions of the first Bass Toothbrush.

Be sure to read my next post where I will review my favourite Bass Toothbrush.


I hope that you have learned something new about better toothbrushing techniques, as I have enjoyed bringing the articles to you.

If you have been using a certain way of toothbrushing, please let me know if it was effective for you.

Also if you are already using Bass Toothbrushing Technique, do leave a comment, and I would love to hear your experience.







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