Top Dentists 2013

Method Brushing

You’re doing it wrong, all wrong.

By Peter Holley June 1, 2013 Published in the June 2013 issue of Houstonia Magazine

One day in 2008, after more than 15 years of teaching his patients how to brush properly, Michael Davidson was sitting on his couch watching TV with his wife. Suddenly—“A light bulb went off, and I said, ‘I can do something about this,’” he recalled recently.  The Pearland dental hygienist would invent a toothbrush designed specifically for implementing the Bass Method, also known (and more intimidatingly so) as sulcular vibration brushing.  Within a few hours, Davidson had handcrafted a clay prototype of the MD Brush in his garage. 

The Bass Method? 

“This is the secret your dentist never tells you,” he whispered conspiratorially during a recent visit to his office. “It’s also the way your dentist brushes his or her teeth.”

Unlike circle-brushing or up-and-down brushing, the Bass Method entails a back and forth motion with the bristles tilted toward the gums at a 45-degree angle. (“I realized it’s not so much how people brush, but the toothbrushes that are the problem,” said Davidson. “They’re designed to be colorful, with all sorts of bells and whistles, but they don’t work.”) 

Davidson said the Bass method is the most effective way to kill germs, eliminate plaque, and avoid periodontal disease, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control, afflicts half of the U.S. adult population. Alicia Valentini, a Houston dentist who specializes in gum disease, agreed. “The Bass Method is the one we always recommend to patients,” she said. “Because the angle of the brushing targets the gums, we find it is the best way to prevent gum disease.”

So why haven’t you heard of it? Well, for one thing, your dentist is busy, said Davidson, and teaching patients proper brushing technique is a somewhat complicated endeavor, best demonstrated using a model. As viral video sensation Sweet Brown would bark: “Ain’t nobody got time for dat!” 

But Davidson attributed most of our collective ignorance to elementary-school health class: it’s just easier to teach kids with unpolished motor skills to brush in basic circles. The Bass Method, on the other hand, uses an angled approach to force bristles into a small pocket between the tooth and the gum line. Once inside this pocket, bristles are easily able to sweep out the harmful bacteria that collect each day. 

Accordingly, instead of a skinny handle with flat bristles, the MD Brush has a thick, wedged handle that tilts its soft, tapered, needle-tipped bristles up in the correct angle. Tiny lines at the end of the brush help guide users when they brush in front of a mirror. It’s not as complicated as it sounds. “If you brush correctly, you can do it right in about 45 seconds,” said Davidson. 

Davidson acquired a patent for his MD Brush in 2008, and now it’s on the verge of hitting the market—he expects it to be available online sometime this summer. It will cost a few dollars more than a conventional brush, mostly, he said, to pay for shipping costs. But the extra expense is a small price to pay for your health.   

“The mouth is the gateway to the body,” said Davidson. “It’s the only place that bacteria can directly enter your blood stream. That door has to be healthy and closed at all times.”

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