top of page

Are you brushing your teeth properly?

Updated: May 19, 2023

You don't just brush your teeth. There are named techniques but which tooth brushing technique is it that you are using? You don't know?


Wow, I bet you didn't know that! Who would've ever thought that there would be different tooth brushing techniques. I mean, don't you just brush it? Apparently not because a round table of dentists came together and staked their claim and laid their names on each technique. Winner takes all.

The tooth brushing techniques:

Brief description of how to perform each brushing technique. You must brush for a minimum of two minutes in order to effectively fight gingivitis.

Bass brushing method

Tilt the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle towards the gum line. Apply slight pressure and then move around in a circular motion for about 20 times while maintaining the 45 degrees towards the gums.

Charter brushing method

Start just underneath the gum line and tilt the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle towards the chewing surface of the tooth. Brush back and forth about 20 times. This brushing technique is good for cleaning the brackets of braces since it comes from below it.

Stillman brushing method

Very similar to the bass technique with the difference being, once you finish brushing the gum line, move it towards the chewing surface of the tooth. Brush back and forth a couple of times.

Scrub brush method

This is the technique that most people use. You just arbitrarily brush vigorously horizontally and vertically everywhere. It is less effective than the other ways of brushing your teeth. It may also lead to gum recession due to the aggressive nature of the technique.

Fones circular technique

Just place your brush over a couple of teeth and then use circular motions. Since this way of brushing does not target the gums, it is less effective for gum disease. It will clean off food debris though!

Leonard vertical brushing technique

Line up the toothbrush at a 90 degree angle with the tooth vertically. Then use gentle vertical motions on each tooth a couple of times.

Roll brush method

Place your tooth brush at the gum tissue and then roll it over the entire tooth.

Modified version of any of the above techniques

Basically choose whatever method you want from above and then after you are done, do a sweeping motion starting from the gums and then sweep towards the chewing surface of the tooth.

The best tooth brushing method

We've covered all of the tooth brushing methods and the one that is most recommended by dentists is the modified bass technique. Start by angling the toothbrush towards the gum line at a 45 degree angle. Apply slight pressure so that the bristle get about 1mm down into the gums. Then do circular motions and once you are done with about 20 circles, you want to sweep from the gums towards the chewing surface.

That was simple right?

No, that is absolutely ridiculous. Who has the time to do that in the morning and at night time? Not even Dr David Chen has time for that, especially at 6am in the morning... Angling it at 45 degrees making circles and then sweeping the tooth?!

Thankfully, we no longer have to even entertain this idea at all because with the advent of technology, the electric toothbrush has come onto the scene. It is significantly easier to brush with an electric because all you have to do is just angle it towards the gum line and then just hold it there for a few seconds before moving onto the next one. It will do all the work for you so you don't even have to think about it!

electric toothbrush
electric toothbrush

Benefits of an electric toothbrush

  • Eliminates you having to use a brushing technique from above

  • Has a built in 2 minute timer so you don't have to count

  • Studies have shown that it significantly reduces the amount of plaque in the molar and premolar areas in this study. There was no difference in the anterior incisors.

Electric is just better than a manual brush, I mean have you seen Tesla? Electric powered is crushing the oil guzzlers out on the streets. Our long island city dentists share the same sentiment with brushing.

We encourage and recommend an electric toothbrush over a manual brush. We do not particularly care which brand of electric toothbrush you use because all electrics are better than any manual. You can't out brush the electric no matter how hard you try. It is similar to how you cannot out run any kind of car, even a smart car.

With that being said, here are a couple of brands of electric toothbrushes:

  • Philips sonicare

  • Oral-B

  • Quip

  • Foreo sweden

  • Smile direct club electric

  • Waterpik 2 in one combo

  • Shyn sonic

We haven't tried all of them but based on feedback from our patients, some of the less expensive ones seem to vibrate not as strongly. Dr Linh Nguyen uses the Oral-B and Dr David Chen uses the Philips sonicare in case you were wondering what we were using!


Now that you know everything there is to know about brushing, go get an electric toothbrush if you don't have one because its impossible to brush without one. What we've noticed is that once you get use to an electric, you won't know what to do when you're forced to use a manual.

Don't forget to use toothpaste along with your brushing. We recommend a toothpaste with fluoride but if you wanted a fluoride free one, an amazing albeit pricier alternative would be the hydroxyapatite toothpaste. Last but not least, don't forget to get your annual dental check up.


David Chen 200 x 200.jpg

About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

Association Memberships:

Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

bottom of page