Tooth brushing habits in uninstructed adults--frequency, technique, duration and force

Clin Oral Investig. 2009 Jun;13(2):203-8. doi: 10.1007/s00784-008-0230-8. Epub 2008 Oct 14.


Professional recommendations for individual oral hygiene mostly include tooth brushing at least twice daily for 2-3 min with gentle force using the Bass technique or modifications of it. This study evaluated whether habitual tooth brushing actually meets these standards. Uninstructed adults (n = 103; mean age 31 +/- 6 years; 61 female, 42 male) with habitual manual tooth brushing were given a self-administered questionnaire about the frequency of brushing and a computer system recorded their brushing technique, duration and force. The majority (79.6%) of participants brushed twice daily. The mean brushing duration was 96.6 +/- 36.0 s, the mean brushing force was 2.3 +/- 0.7 N (max. 4.1 N), and no significant differences were found for quadrants. Most subjects (73.8%) brushed with circling, 8.7% with horizontal/scrubbing, 13.6% with horizontal/circling and 3.9% with vertical/sweeping movements. Modified Bass technique was not observed. When appropriate brushing habits were defined as brushing at least twice daily for 120 s with a brushing force of less than 3 N and with circling or vertical sweeping movements, only 25.2% of the participants fulfilled all criteria, emphasising the ongoing need for oral hygiene education.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dental Stress Analysis
  • Female
  • Health Education, Dental
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oral Hygiene / education
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Toothbrushing / methods*
  • Toothbrushing / standards*
  • Young Adult