Best Way to Brush Your Teeth? Experts Disagree

When it comes to the best way to brush your teeth, experts do not agree.

British researchers surveyed 15 dental association guidelines in the United States, Britain, Japan and seven other countries; searched the dental literature for studies; recorded information by toothbrush manufacturers; and read 10 dental textbooks searching for advice on how, how long and how often to brush.

The review, published in the August issue of the British Dental Journal, found no randomized trials of brushing technique and very little agreement on how to go about cleaning teeth. Some sources, like the American Dental Association, recommended the Bass technique — holding the brush at a 45-degree angle to the gum and making very short back-and-forth movements.

Others preferred the Fones technique, which requires large, sweeping circles over the teeth with the toothbrush at right angles to the tooth surface.

At least three other variations were suggested by other sources. Some said to brush for two minutes, some for two to three, and others for at least three minutes. Some experts said twice a day; others said three times at least.

“Despite all the techniques described by experts, there’s no evidence to suggest that any of them is more effective than a simple scrub,” said the lead author, John Wainwright, a dentist in Doncaster, England. “Expert opinion is worth something, but it’s low on the hierarchy of evidence.”

 

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