How Often To Scale And Polish Teeth: Tips on how to brush teeth

Dental Designs Clinic Singapore
27 Sep, 2022

Let’s face it. For many people, toothbrushing is just an oral care routine – it's something we do every day when we get up or before we go to bed.

BUT, did you know that brushing your teeth is not just essential for having pearly white teeth and fresh breath, but it is also important for keeping you fit and healthy. That is why we must know how to brush our teeth properly. This article explains everything you should know while brushing your teeth as well as how often to get professional cleaning done. 


What is scaling and polishing?

Scaling and polishing are dental procedures that are part of a routine cleaning at the dentist. Scaling removes plaque and tartar buildup, while polishing makes your teeth feel smooth and look shiny. Tartar, in particular, can't be removed by regular brushing and flossing, so scaling is crucial for maintaining oral health. Click here to read in depth about scaling and polishing.


How often should I get my teeth professionally clean?

For most people, it is recommended to have this procedure done by a dental professional (either a dentist or dental hygienist) every six months. However, some individuals may require more frequent scaling and polishing, such as those with a history of gum disease or a tendency to develop tartar quickly.

Regular scaling and polishing help remove plaque and tartar buildup, which can contribute to gum disease and tooth decay if left untreated. Your dentist can assess your oral health and recommend the appropriate frequency for scaling and polishing to keep your teeth and gums healthy.


Is scaling and polishing necessary even if I brush my teeth everyday?

Yes, scaling and polishing are still necessary even if you brush your teeth regularly. While brushing and flossing at home are essential for maintaining oral health, they may not remove all the plaque and tartar buildup on your teeth. Plaque can harden into tartar over time, especially in areas that are difficult to reach with a toothbrush. Additionally, tartar can only be removed by a dental professional using specialised tools during a scaling procedure.

Therefore, brushing your teeth daily plays a crucial role in minimising tartar buildup. By consistently removing plaque through regular brushing, you can prevent it from hardening into tartar.


Understanding the Brushing Techniques

There are many ways in which you can brush your teeth. However, not every brushing technique may be suitable for you. Here we explain a few brushing techniques so that you can assess, in consultation with our dentists, regarding the one which suits your dental needs best.brushing teeth techniques

1. Horizontal Scrub Method

This is the most commonly used brushing technique. It involves placing the toothbrush in a horizontal position in relation to the teeth. The tooth surfaces are cleaned by using short, gentle back-and-forth strokes.

Afterwards, the tongue and the chewing surfaces of the teeth are cleaned while keeping the toothbrush in a vertical position. Despite its widespread usage of this technique, it is not recommended, especially for those who use excessive force during brushing as it can lead to gum recession and root sensitivity.


2. Bass or Sulcular Technique

This brushing technique is designed to ensure optimal plaque removal from under the gums before it hardens to become calculus and causes inflammation and gum recession. To brush your teeth with the bass method, place your toothbrush parallel to your teeth such that the bristles are oriented towards the gums. Now, tilt the toothbrush at an angle of 45˚ and move the bristles under the gumline and move the toothbrush in a back-and-forth manner using 15-20 short strokes. Once you’re done, move towards the next region, thereby cleaning all the surfaces of your teeth and gums in this way.  Finally, clean the chewing surfaces of your teeth and the tongue as well.

From our experience, this technique works best in adults as it is effective in removing plaque and food debris.


3. Stillman’s Technique

This technique is similar to the Bass method with a slight modification – the brush is moved back and forth while maintaining a light vertical pressure. This technique is beneficial for people who have gum recession, or where gum stimulation is required. It is also helpful in removing plaque and food debris form the tight spaces between the teeth and the exposed root surfaces (in case of gum recession).


4. Roll Technique

This method is usually used in addition to the bass or Stillman's technique. It involves holding the toothbrush such that the bristles are parallel to the roots. A rolling motion of the brush is then performed which cleans the gums and the buccal and lingual surfaces of the teeth. The other tooth surfaces and the tongue are cleaned using the Bass or Stillman’s technique. 


Using the Right ToothbrushToothbrushes

When you visit the market, you will find numerous brands of toothbrushes that are flooding the counters. What toothbrushes are suitable for you? Here are some factors to consider:

  1. Toothbrush Bristles: There are three main types of toothbrush bristlessoft, medium and firm. We prefer soft-bristled brushes as it removes plaque but prevents the gums from being damaged in the process.

  2. Size of the Head of Toothbrush: While large toothbrush heads may look like they’re better for brushing, a small-headed brush is actually better since it’s easier to manoeuvre.

  3. Toothbrush Handles: There are so many different handle sizes and types for toothbrushes! Being comfortable with it is the most important reason. A larger handle tends to be easier to grip and manipulate as opposed to thinner ones.

  4. Electric vs. Manual Toothbrushes: In competent “toothbrushers”, both electric and manual toothbrushes work just as well. However, while manual toothbrushes are sufficient for keeping your teeth clean, there are some situations where electric toothbrushes are more beneficial. Such situations include:
    1. Age - Children often have trouble getting their teeth properly cleaned with a manual toothbrush. A powered toothbrush makes it easier for them to reach all areas and makes toothbrushing fun!
    2. Manual Dexterity – Those with compromised dexterity in the hands, wrists or arms may have trouble brushing properly. An electric toothbrush can really help make it easier for these individuals
    3. Toothbrush Abrasion – Manual toothbrushes tend to enable the individual to brush “too hard”. This leads to abrasion of the tooth structure as well as causing the gums to recede. Having an electric toothbrush that has an in-built pressure sensor helps to keep this in check.


As mentioned above, there isn’t one specific type of toothbrush that’s been proven to be more effective. Instead, it’s best to choose a toothbrush that takes into account both professional recommendations and your personal preferences.

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  1. Poyato-Ferrera M, Segura-Egea JJ, Bullón-Fernández P. Comparison of modified Bass technique with normal toothbrushing practices for efficacy in supragingival plaque removal. Int J Dent Hyg. 2003 May;1(2):110-4. doi: 10.1034/j.1601-5037.2003.00018.x. PMID: 16451532.
  2. Wainwright J, Sheiham A. An analysis of methods of toothbrushing recommended by dental associations, toothpaste and toothbrush companies and in dental texts. Br Dent J. 2014 Aug;217(3):E5. doi: 10.1038/sj.bdj.2014.651. PMID: 25104719.