Methods Of Brushing And Cleaning Teeth

cleaning teeth

Cleaning teeth with a toothbrush is vital to oral health. A clean mouth not only reflects your oral health but shows the overall well-being of an individual.

A lot of people clean their teeth but they don’t know how to properly use a toothbrush to completely remove the plaque and food debris trapped between their teeth.

The main focus of this article is to guide you about the strokes you can use with your toothbrush to take all the plaque and odour-producing bacteria out of your mouth.

purpose of toothbrushing

The main purpose of toothbrushing is to

  • To prevent plaque formation
  • Plaque removal
  • To clean teeth and remove food remnants, debris and stains trapped in between teeth.
  • To clean the tongue
  • Massage the gingival tissue

Modified Bass technique – the most recomended method of cleaning teeth

There are several methods for brushing and cleaning teeth, indicated for healthy and other specific dental conditions with several pros and cons. The poplular ones are stillman (and its modification), charter, leonard, fones, horizontal scrub, hirsfield’s, smith-Bell, bass and modified bass techniques.

The brushing technique most recommended by dentists is the modified Bass method as it is easy to learn, the most effective, and the most widely accepted method of toothbrushing.

For adequate cleaning, it is required to brush twice a day with a soft toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste, after breakfast and before going to bed. Rinsing of the mouth after every meal is also advised to keep it clean.


  • Place the head of the soft brush parallel to the biting surfaces of the teeth, with the brush head covering the 3 to 4 teeth beginning at the last tooth in the arch.
  • Place the toothbrush bristle at the gum margin at a 45 angle to the long axis of the teeth.
  • Now apply a gentle vibratory pressure using a short back & forth motion dislodging the tips of the bristles. This motion removes the plaque above and below the gums.
  • Complete several strokes in the same position.
  • The repetitive motion cleans the plaque above and below the gums and interdental surfaces as far as the brush can clean.
  • Continue around the arch brushing about 3 teeth at a time.
  • Use the same method for the inner surfaces of the teeth.
  • After completing the upper arch repeat the same for the lower arch.

Who can practice this technique?

  • People with healthy teeth and gums can practice this technique as it is the dentist’s most recommended method.
  • For those who require dental plaque removal adjacent to and directly beneath the gum margins.
  • People with wide or visible interdental (in between teeth) spaces, and exposed root surfaces.


  • Provides good gingival stimulation
  • Efficiently cleans in between teeth and below the gums.

Effect of improper brushing

If the brushing technique is improperly used or excessive pressure is exerted it can lead to gum recession, tooth abrasion, and/or gum ulceration.

Factors that can damage the teeth and gums

  • Repeated use of vigorous brushing strokes (rotary, vertical or horizontal) for a long period.
  • Habitual or prolonged brushing in one area.
  • Application of excessive pressure applied with a worn-out non-resilient brush.
  • Use of a hard toothbrush.
  • Use of toothbrush with frayed and broken bristles.
  • Application of excessive pressure in routine brushing in an attempt to make teeth more clean and shiny.
  • An abrasive agent in toothpaste.

Brushing technique for children -fones method

The modified bass method is technique sensitive and is difficult to follow for young children who have just started brushing on their own. Fones and horizontal scrub methods are recommended for young children as they are easy to learn and takes less time.

Toothbrush selection for children

The size of toothbrush should be propotional to the size of their mouth and hand. Their brushes have small and short head but large handle for ease of grip.

Method of fones technique

The brush head is placed perpendicular to the teeth and is moved in a circular motion 4-5 times for each set of teeth.

method of horizontal scrubing technique

The brush bristles are place at a 90 degree angle to the teeth and is moved in back and forth direction several times.

Who can practice these technique?

  • Young children who have just started brushing.
  • Physically or emotionally handicapped individuals.


  • Easy to learn
  • Takes short time


  • Excessive pressure can damage the gums.
  • Doesn’t clean interdental areas properly.


Cleaning teeth following a proper brushing technique is a prerequisite of good oral hygiene. Dentists recommend the modified bass technique for adult brushing where the toothbrush bristles are placed at a 45-degree angle at the gum margin and are moved in back and forth direction for several times.

Simple techniques of cleaning teeth like fones and horizontal scrub methds are advocated for kids.

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