How to Brush Your Teeth Correctly

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There is a better way to brush your teeth- see how
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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. marta Avatar

    German dentist Dr Philips designed tooth brushes called blotting brushes. I cured my gum disease in 3 weeks…………….the brushes are not being made anymore….shame
    I use my last one with tea tree.

  2. Ella Avatar

    Flossing is one of the worst things anyone can do. Half of all dentists now recommend against flossing because it spreads bacteria and can cut the gums.

    Oil pulling is much safer and gentler

  3. Pat Avatar

    What’s your take on sonic toothbrushes? I have a sonicare and don’t use a brushing motion. I just rest it on the gum line and move it along the different quadrants of the mouth using the convenient built in timer.

  4. MariCarol Avatar

    PO H makes bass toothbrushes, also, and they have a child-sized one. Hope this helps someone.

  5. kathi Avatar

    do you have a recipe that is comparable to ora wellness ? what are the ingredients in ora wellness brushing blend ?

  6. Sonakshi Avatar

    Really, a better way to brush is explained in this article. Thank you for sharing this wonderful article. I also had to ask about the gums, and it is well mentioned here.

  7. charlotte Avatar

    I love this article. I’m a dental hygienist and using the bass sulcular method is the best way to disrupt the colonies of bacteria that live underneath the gum line… Whether you are using a manual or sonic toothbrush, the same principles apply. I do have one thing to add though. Most of us don’t SEE the plaque, so we don’t brush well enough. . . or we don’t go back to floss the germs that are hiding in places where the brush can’t reach.
    I totally love a brand of toothpaste that stains the plaque green so it’s easy to go after. It’s plant based and won’t stain your sink or towels and clothing!

  8. Hannah Avatar

    Katie, I’m wondering what your protocol is for teething babies? When do you start having your kids brush their teeth? I have a 12 month old with eight teeth and her pediatrician is saying that we should start brushing her teeth now, but I’m not sure…and I’m not sure what kind of toothbrush to use, it seems like she’s not old enough yet for the Bass ones for kids.

  9. Samara Avatar

    Do you know if the HealThy Mouth Blend is safe for breastfeeding? I am almost certain I have gingivitis and really want to try the Orawellness products along with a natural toothpaste (earthpaste) and oil pulling but I’m concerned about the EO’s.

  10. Becky Avatar

    Gosh, I posted a question but can’t find it—frustrating.

    Bass toothbrushes…. I’m getting some along with the HealTHY Mouth synergy BUT also making some tooth powder from your recipe here. Great info!

    HOW SOFT are the Bass brushes??? There’s nothing on that site comparing there ‘softness’ to brand names that come in Soft and Ultra Soft or Super Soft.

    I hate these newer brushes on the market (& given out at dentists offices) with ‘flossing bristles’—all the manufacturers have jumped on the ‘flossing bristle’ bandwagon! It use to be that all the good brands had the ’round ended’ bristles… not anymore.

  11. Pamela Avatar

    What dental floss do you and your kids use? Is there a bass toothbrush for kids? I can’t find it. Thanks

  12. Avigael Avatar

    I’ve been looking at different bass brushes but I don’t know which to get! Which one do you recomend? Are they all created equal?

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