This summary is based on the Cochrane Systematic Review: Powered/electric toothbrushes compared to manual toothbrushes for maintaining oral health (June 2014)
Yaacob M, Worthington HV, Deacon SA, Deery C, Walmsley AD, Robinson PG, Glenny AM
Good oral hygiene, through the removal of plaque (a sticky film containing bacteria) by effective tooth brushing has an important role in the prevention of gum disease and tooth decay. Dental plaque is the primary cause of gingivitis (gum inflammation) and is implicated in the progression to periodontitis, a more serious form of gum disease that affects the tissues that support the teeth. The buildup of plaque can also lead to tooth decay. Both gum disease and tooth decay are the primary reasons for tooth loss.
There are numerous different types of powered toothbrushes available to the public, ranging in price and mode of action. Different powered toothbrushes work in different ways (such as moving from side to side or in a circular motion). Powered toothbrushes also vary drastically in price. It is important to know whether powered toothbrushes are more effective at removing plaque than manual toothbrushes, and whether their use reduces the inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and prevents or slows the progression of periodontitis.
Purpose of the Review
This review has been conducted to assess the effects of using a powered (or ’electric’) toothbrush compared with using a manual toothbrush for maintaining oral health.
- Powered toothbrushes reduc
e plaque and gingivitis more than manual tooth brushing in the short and long term.
- The evidence produced shows benefits in using a powered toothbrush when compared with a manual toothbrush. There was an 11% reduction in plaque at 1 to 3 months of use, and a 21% reduction in plaque when assessed after 3 months of use. For gingivitis, there was a 6% reduction at 1 to 3 months of use and an 11% reduction when assessed after 3 months of use. The benefits of this for long-term dental health are unclear.
- Few studies reported on side effects; any reported side effects were localised and only temporary.