How to Brush Your Teeth Correctly

Katie Wells Avatar

Reading Time: 4 minutes

This post contains affiliate links.

Read my affiliate policy.

There is a better way to brush your teeth- see how
Wellness Mama » Blog » Natural Home » How to Brush Your Teeth Correctly

I’m guessing (or at least hoping) that you learned to brush your teeth at a really young age and you’ve probably been brushing them pretty much that same way since then. You may have gotten a more grown up toothpaste that doesn’t taste like bubblegum and your toothbrush may not have a picture of Elmo on it anymore, but you likely still use the same method to brush.

A Better Way to Brush?

Just like we eventually grow out of bubblegum flavored blue toothpaste (Tip: use a natural toothpaste with your kids too!), there is a science-backed and more effective way to brush your teeth as well. Statistically, all of us could use an upgrade to our oral hygiene habits anyway, as over 90% of adults have some form of gum disease!

The early symptoms of gum disease are often ignored, and what starts as just bleeding gums or bad breath can eventually cause severe oral health problems and even tooth loss. Research is finding that not only is gum disease a leading cause of tooth loss in adults, but those bacteria living in the mouth and under the gums can cause systemic problems in the body as well! (That is why those with heart trouble and certain other medical conditions are told to take an antibiotic whenever getting their teeth cleaned at the dentist.)

While brushing alone won’t necessarily stop gum disease, there is a particular method of brushing that was discovered years ago that more effectively fights these harmful strains of bacteria in the mouth.

It’s All About That Bass…

Brushing Blend 275 206

Ok, ok… not the song, but an old school doctor named Dr. Charles Bass who discovered this method of brushing (now called the Bass Brushing method). At the time, Dr. Bass was the youngest person to become Dean of a medical school and was a pioneer in his field, carrying the first microscope west of the Mississippi River. (source)

Although he was academically gifted, his teeth weren’t as genetically fortunate, and at a young age, he was diagnosed with advanced gum disease and his dentist recommended complete removal of all of his teeth. He didn’t find this option particularly appealing (who would!) and instead decided to use his medical knowledge to try to address the disease scientifically.

Using his microscope, Dr. Bass identified the strains of bacteria in his mouth and used the microscope to gauge if different methods he tried were working to fight his gum disease, eventually identifying a method of brushing and a special toothbrush that helped reverse his gum disease. He was said to have died with all of his teeth in his mouth.

Why You Should Brush Your Gums

The method that Dr. Bass discovered for brushing, the “Bass Brushing” technique, is effective because it addresses bacterial colonization in the gums and doesn’t just focus on “scrubbing” the surface of the teeth. Dr. Bass found that many toothbrushes are too abrasive with bristles too close together to effectively address bacteria in the gums, so he created a brush called the Bass Brush that has bristles farther apart to be able to effectively reach the gums as well.

These specialized brushes also have rounded tips instead of the sharp/straight tips of most bristles, making them gentler on the gums. I have several family members who were told they were brushing too hard and had receding gums as a result. This brushing method and these more gentle toothbrushes help address this problem as well. Here’s a visual of the difference:

toothbrush bristle comparision

While the Bass Brushes are recommended for this method (these are the brushes we use), some people have noticed some of the benefits from using the Bass method with their regular toothbrushes.

How to Brush Your Teeth With the Bass Brushing Method

First, hold the toothbrush gently! You’re not cleaning a grout line, so rather than holding the toothbrush like a scrub brush, hold it gently so your arm can relax and apply the small movements required for the Bass brushing technique:

  • Hold the brush at the commonly recognized 45 degree angle to the tooth and gum line.
  • The main difference in the Bass technique is how small the movements are. The Bass brushing technique uses very small lateral strokes along the gum line.
  • It’s almost like you aren’t “brushing” your teeth. Rather, you place the toothbrush at a spot along the gum line and gently wiggle using very small, fine back-and-forth motions to get the bristles down between the teeth and under the gum line.
  • Count to 5, then move to the next place with your brush and repeat.
  • The small motion takes practice, but in time, you will be amazed at how much healthier your gums will feel!

Here’s a video that shows the method and explains why it works:

My Personal Tooth Brushing Story

When I was younger, I had swollen gums that started when I had braces (the latex in the rubber bands irritated my gums). Even years after the braces came off, my dentist always commented that my gums were swollen, especially on my bottom front teeth. A few years ago, he was worried that I had the beginning of gingivitis in my gums and that due to the swelling, it was hard to effectively clean under the gums.

It wasn’t until years later when I started using natural toothpaste options and Bass Toothbrushes that the swelling in my gums finally went away completely. Since switching, my gums are not swollen and my teeth are no longer sensitive to cold.

For years I used OraWellness Heal Thy Mouth Blend as toothpaste or in homemade toothpaste recipes since it contains oils that help battle the bacteria in the mouth. Now, I use my Wellnesse Whitening & Remineralizing Toothpaste since I know exactly what’s in it and I obviously created it to meet all of my healthy mouth specifications!

I also use a copper tongue scraper to help get rid of residual bacteria hanging out in my mouth.

If you want try to make your toothpaste instead (as I did for years), I recommend these homemade recipes:

Even if you decide to stick with the cartoon character toothbrush, try brushing your teeth with the Bass Brushing Method instead. Your teeth and gums will thank you!

Ever used a Bass toothbrush or any other natural toothpaste? Share your experience below!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


90 responses to “How to Brush Your Teeth Correctly”

  1. Kathleen Avatar

    I have wanted to try activated charcoal on my 15-year-old daughter’s teeth, but she does not have smooth, well-enameled teeth–I think this may be due to not eating dairy products most of her life, due to gut issues with them, although she has eaten other calcium-rich foods–and I am concerned that the roughness of her teeth could trap the charcoal and cause it to stay on her teeth, rather than rinse away completely, or that the charcoal would actually stain her teeth rather than whiten them, perhaps permanently. Any thoughts on this, Katie?

  2. Elissa Avatar

    What about kids and cavities? I am having the most difficult time with my small kiddos. Been using Earthpaste, to no avail. I am about ready to go back to fluoride. So frustrated. They’re too small for oil pulling.

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      Hi Rebecca, I removed the link because I’m not sure if that is the same brush or not as it doesn’t specifically mention the bristle shape. Looking at other products on that site makes me wonder if Bass is the brand name but not the specific type of bristles…Going to research more…

      1. Marilyn Avatar

        POH also sells Based tooth brushes & floss in several different kinds.

  3. Helene Avatar

    I do swith on/off from CVS brand enamel building toothpaste (it works-no pain!) & then I use Trader Joes Fennel toothpaste which uses the CALCIUM CARBONATE as its main ingredient & id fluoride free.
    So…….. Is the TJ toothpaste just as effective as the chemical one I get in CVS ? Does it compare with your homemade toothpaste -since yours also uses the Calcium C ?
    Any thoughts?

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      I haven’t tried it and don’t know the ingredient list so I can’t say. I’d just make sure it doesn’t contain vegetable glycerin.

      1. Helene Avatar

        The T Joes Antiplaque Toothpaste Ing list is: Calcium Carbonate, water, glycerin, xylitol, sodium cocoyl glutamate, foeniculum vulgare (fennel)oil, Myrrh Resin, hydrated silica, carrageenan, propolis wax, peppermint oil.
        So it has glycerin (not sure if vegetable). Why would this be a concern ?
        Is there anything else not great in here?

        1. Wellness Mama Avatar

          There is some evidence that glycerin (of any kind) can coat the teeth and keep mineral sin saliva from reaching the teeth. I also avoid carrageenan (here’s why) but it wouldn’t be as potentially harmful in toothpaste as in edible products.

  4. Charlotte Avatar

    Several months ago I was reminded that digestion begins in the mouth. Since raw goat’s milk kefir feeds on sugars and it’s good bacteria battles the bad bacteria in the gut, I wondered if it would do the same in the mouth. For almost a year now, I have been brushing my teeth in the morning the same as usual – but just before bedtime, I swish my homemade kefir around in my mouth without rinsing. I have always had extreme plaque, especially on the inside of my lower front teeth. I am amazed at how clean and plaque-free my teeth stay. My hygenist only polished my teeth during my last visit because there was nothing to clean.

  5. Betsy Avatar

    I recently visited the dentist for my annual checkup and the dental hygienist could not quit talking about how great my gums are. I told her my secret when she was finished with the cleaning, I use a super soft flossing toothbrush from my natural foods store. I also have been using homemade tooth powder, based on your recipe at Wellness Mama. I sometimes don’t have all the ingredients and just go with what I have. The main ingredients are bentonite clay, baking soda, sea salt and peppermint oil. I had almost zero tarter, except the back teeth where it’s hard to reach! My gums are fantastic and my teeth are white. I use a gum cleaning brush that goes between my teeth to remove any food that is stuck. And I only brush once a day, in the morning. No cavities for 32 years. Yeah! I’ve had the same dentist for 35 years and he says I have great teeth.

    Love homemade and cheap!

  6. Jade Avatar

    Wow, my story with braces is so similar! I’ve been using a baking soda/xylitol/coconut oil toothpaste with crushed mint leaves, since I don’t know where to get bentonite clay and even if I did it’s too expensive for me. Every time my swollen gums start to bleed, I coconut oil pull and my gums feel better!
    PS. I love your website! I’ve been following for a while and trying to use all of the natural remedies/tips I can from it! So thank you!

  7. Robert Avatar

    Wow, looked like he had a tremor! Maybe it gets easier with parkinsonism! Or violin practice.

    But seriously folks, I’m going to have to try this. I might have to support one arm with the other hand to keep the movement amplitude from becoming too great. My fine motor control using the long muscles has never been good.

  8. Cathy Avatar

    I am going to try thie method of brushing. I live in the Caribbean and leave this evening to go back, so can’t order the toothbrushes on this trip. On our last trip, I ordered the redmond toothpaste and started using it. My gums were pretty bad before that, but they feel much better after using Redmond. I would like to get both my husband and my teeth whiter. I will look to see if there is anything we can make that will do this, since it’s too late to order anything. I was really getting scared at one ooint with the gum issue. A friend and my mother both had surgery and I really did not want to go that direction, so it is great to know there are options for natural improvement.

  9. Laurie Avatar

    Saw a post on another place, she said brush twice a day correctly of course, floss properly daily, get a rubber pointed tip to rub around gums gently. Stimulates blood. She saw results in 6 moths.
    With this sites info on natural toothpaste, brushes and techniques, maybe all of the above will bring back those gums.

  10. Venessa Avatar

    Is the remineralizing toothpaste safe for children between the ages of 3-11? And do you know if the OraWellness blend is safe for that age group as well?

  11. Bailey Hay Avatar
    Bailey Hay

    Ideally homemade toothpaste is the best option. Buttt if you had to recommend a store toothpaste what brands do you like most?


  12. Nina Avatar

    Good info, next I’ll have to search your site and see if there is anything combating dry mouth. My mom’s dry mouth is causing her teeth to rot, it is terrible!

  13. Kelly Larsen Avatar
    Kelly Larsen

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this!
    I have been looking up information on healing gum disease naturally.
    I am adding the bass brush to my amazon cart right now along with the OraMD oil to buy for my next purchase.

    Thank you for once again giving me more information on taking my health to the next level.

  14. Mariana Avatar

    Hi Katie! Do you have any tips to brush a toddler’s teeth? I understand that at 2 years old you have plenty of more important stuff to do than brushing your teeth, but it is not negotiable and so far it’s been more of a battlefield at home. I would love to apply Bass method, but so far it’s more a “do it in whatever way possible the fastest you can before we get another meltdown”. Ugh.
    Also, when we took her to the dentist a couple of months ago, dentist pointed out that we should start using toothpaste when brushing her teeth. Well she didn’t get the “spitting” part so far, so I’m still not comfortable on allowing her toothpaste (even when the toothpaste I intend to use is your remineralizing, all natural recipe, which I’ve been using myself with very satisfactory outcomes). Hubby has been pesting me about it as he understands that dentist certainly knows better. Still, I don’t know… would be really helpful if you share some of your experience with toddlers toothbrushing. I am sure you have plenty!
    Thak you!

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      Totally understand! Doing much of anything with toddlers can prove a challenge 😉 Sometimes we find it helpful to distract them with a toy or some entertainment (husband sings and does a silly dance while I brush); it may only afford us a few extra seconds, but it allows us to get areas that we might otherwise miss with a squirmy toddler. We’ve also noticed that our toddlers have been more willing to brush if older siblings/parents are brushing at the same time (they want to emulate the “big people” behavior). Hope that helps 🙂

      1. Ashley Avatar

        Here’s what we do with our toddler: We ask something like “What’s/Who’s hiding in your mouth?” We proceed to brush and then say, “Wow! I can’t believe I found that big T-Rex in there. Oh look there’s another one! Oh, did you just see that Pterodactyl fly out of your mouth? And look at that triceratops!” They think it’s silly and it really helps us to be able to see in their mouth. Obviously, use anything–trucks, characters from a favorite show, insects, etc.

  15. Magda Avatar

    Thank you for this. I’ve been using the Bass toothbrush and the OraWellness oil for a while now. I use a natural toothpaste (currenly Redmond) and an electric toothbrush in the morning and the Bass toothbrush and oil in the evening. Between that and flossing (I used to hate flossing but I found out it really is the best to keep my tight teeth clean and gums not bleeding) my teeth are great. I also use peroxide mixed half and half with water to rinse if I feel things are tender or just ‘yucky’. It works!

  16. Rodney Avatar

    I have always brushed my tongue with the toothbrush Suzie, did U not also prior to getting the scraper? Don’t see that the scraper would be any better, both effective… Rodney

    1. Suzie Avatar

      Yeah I used to just brush my tongue, but was told to try the tongue scraper and it’s so much more effective! You wouldn’t think there’s a big difference but there is, you have to try it to see for yourself. 🙂

  17. Suzie Avatar

    Guys, you also have to get onboard with using a tongue scraper!! It’s so gross but SO effective and my mouth has never felt cleaner! Best invention! ?

  18. Rodney Avatar

    I watched the video, the gentleman never brushed the teeth themselves, just the gums.. What about the teeth?? And do we do the same on the inside gums, upper and lower also? He only did the front bottom…

  19. Bobbi Avatar

    Do you have any thoughts on this toothpaste? I recently saw it and was curious to know your thoughts…Natural Whitening Tooth & Gum Powder with Activated Charcoal

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *