How to Brush Your Teeth for Gum Health: The Bass Brushing Technique

Recently I shared a list of natural toothpaste alternatives, but did you know that how you brush your teeth can be just as important as what you use on your toothbrush? In fact, the type of brush you use plays an important role as well! 

Today Will and Susan Revak from OraWellness share instructions for the Bass brushing technique, an important step in reducing gum disease, improving oral health and protecting tooth enamel.


Why is addressing gum disease important?

The grim facts speak for themselves:

  • Over 90% of adults have some active form of gum disease at age 30. 
  • And gum disease isn't just isolated to adulthood--a whopping 65% of 15 year olds already show signs of active gum disease! 

Given these statistics, we consider gum disease the elephant in the living room. Mainstream dentistry has by and large dropped the ball on gum disease and has chosen to focus on tooth decay and the drill, fill and bill business model.

What starts as a little tenderness and swelling between molars turns to gums bleeding when flossing and chronic bad breath, then leads to receding gums and loose teeth, and eventually causes adult tooth loss.

Unfortunately, gum disease isn't just about chronic bad breath and bleeding gums. Besides being the #1 cause of adult tooth loss, research clearly demonstrates a link between active gum disease and the main diseases in our society. Regardless of whether we are talking about arthritis, heart disease or diabetes, research has found links how the "bad bugs" in our mouths contribute to suppressing immunity and the breakdown of the system, resulting in disease. And rightfully so! If you think about it, gum disease is a rampant bacterial infection that has direct access to the whole body via the bloodstream!

While we can't only brush our teeth to create optimal health, we can support greater immunological health by effectively lowering the incidence of bad bugs in our mouths and the risk of rampant bacterial invasion of the body with specific oral hygiene habits.

Clues from history...

Dr. C. C. Bass (photo credit)

Thankfully, we can look back in history to find evidence unvarnished by greed or political agendas of how to address gum disease. Like other notable figures in health history such as Weston A Price, Max Gerson, and Edward and May Mellanby, we have Dr. Charles C. Bass to bring light on the subject of gum disease.

To help place him in history, Dr. Bass was the youngest person to become a dean of a medical school and the first person to carry a microscope west of the Mississippi River.

Dr. Bass was diagnosed with advanced gum disease and instructed by his dentist to have all of his teeth extracted. Dr. Bass had already discovered many parasites using his microscope, so rather than take his dentist's advice, Dr. Bass put his skills toward figuring out what was causing the destruction in his mouth.

Using his microscope, he easily identified the same '"bad bugs" that plague most mouths today. He then set out to figure out a technique that would help to disrupt and remove the bad bugs from his mouth. Through extensive trial and error he created a toothbrush and technique that effectively disrupt and remove the bacteria from the teeth and gums.

As an example of history, Dr. Bass died an old man with all his natural teeth in his mouth. So, given the diagnosis from his dentist, Dr. Bass must have done something right!

Why the Bass Brushing Technique Works

The Bass brushing technique works because the focus is on disrupting and removing the bacteria that accumulate along and under the gum line and between the teeth. Created by extensive trial and error, the Bass brushing technique is very effective at reducing gum disease when used properly.

To be able to effectively use the technique, we must understand that the "bad bugs" related to gum disease organize along and under the gum line, especially between the molars. So, our focus has to be to gently wiggle bristles down into these areas to break up the bacteria's colonization efforts.

Unfortunately, signs of early gum disease are swollen, red, tender gums. Without conscious awareness that these are signs of gum disease, most people avoid brushing the infected area due to discomfort around the swollen gums, which allows the infection to continue unhindered. 

The Right Tool for the Job

What we have from Dr. Bass' life are the Bass toothbrush and the Bass brushing technique. The Bass toothbrush differs from most toothbrushes in two ways:

First, the bristles are more spaced out and there are fewer bristles in the brush head. What Dr. Bass found was most toothbrushes had too many bristles to effectively wiggle between the teeth and down into the gum line. So, he created a brush with much fewer bristles to be able to get down where the bad bugs thrive to disrupt and remove the bacteria. The same is true today as most conventional toothbrushes have too many bristles to effectively use the Bass brushing technique.

The second way the Bass toothbrush differs from other toothbrushes is the bristle tips on the Bass brush are rounded, polished and very smooth. See the photos below to compare the rounded bristle tips of the Bass toothbrush and the jagged, rough cut bristle tips of many other toothbrush bristles.

Left: rounded, polished bristle tips of the Bass toothbrush

Right: jagged, rough cut bristles of other toothbrushes

Instructions for The Bass Brushing Technique

First, hold the toothbrush gently! We like to joke, we're not cleaning a grout line! So, rather than hold 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.

Here's how to brush:

  • 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!

Your Teeth Will Thank You Too!

Another big problem with conventional brushing methods is that they damage the protective outer layer (enamel) of your teeth:

  • Research has shown that many folks brush their teeth too hard and damage their enamel. 
  • Many toothbrushes have rough cut bristles (rather than the rounded tip bristles on the Bass brushes) that can scratch enamel and irritate gum tissue. 
  • In fact, a main cause of receding gums is brushing the sensitive gum tissue too hard--with a toothbrush with rough cut bristles! 
  • Many name brand toothpastes use hydrated silica as an abrasive which has been shown to etch teeth and damage enamel.

Putting these all together creates a situation where many people may be doing more harm than good when brushing!

So, rather than dragging your toothbrush over the surface of the teeth, try out the Bass technique and see how it feels!

You can watch the instructional video showing the Bass brushing technique below to get a clearer picture of how you should be brushing:

Check out more video tutorials about oral and holistic health here.

About the authors:

Will and Susan Revak are the founders of OraWellness. They began their journey to creating greater oral health in their own lives over 15 years ago. Check out Susan's story of how she reversed the damage of advanced gum disease.

OraWellness offers tools and educational products to help you take control of your oral health using organic ingredients and inexpensive natural solutions. Chronic bad breath, bleeding gums, and other signs of oral imbalance can be a thing of the past. Whether you are looking for gentle, effective daily care or a complete solution to effectively address oral imbalances (even advanced gum disease!), OraWellness can help. Learn more at


Elizabeth's thoughts: I've been using the Bass brushing technique for the past few months, and I am always surprised at how the gentle wiggling motion leaves my teeth feeling so smooth and clean. And I spent all those years thinking I had to scrub my teeth to death to get them clean! Now I realize the gentler method is not only more effective, but protects my teeth and gums in the long run.

What do you think? If you have any thoughts or questions, comment below!

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday and Fight Back Friday.

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