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Study Shows Oscillating
Power Toothbrushes Superior
Excerpt By Bill Berkrot, Reuters Health

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Use of a certain kind of power toothbrush each day could keep the dental hygienist at bay.

People who wake up in a cold sweat at the thought of dental assistants with sharp instruments hacking away at plaque on their teeth, or those simply interested in the most efficient method of daily dental care, should use a power toothbrush with rotational/oscillation action, according to a new report.

The finding, announced at a symposium in Boston on Saturday, comes from the oral health wing of the Cochrane Collaboration, an international nonprofit organization that compiles and reviews data from healthcare studies.

Rotational oscillation toothbrushes--those that rotate in one direction and then the other--removed up to 11% more plaque and reduced bleeding of the gums by up to 17% more than manual or other power toothbrushes, according to results compiled by the Manchester, England-based Cochrane Oral Health Group, which analyzed data from clinical trials conducted over 37 years.

The Cochrane study extracted data from reports on 29 clinical trials involving 2,547 participants in North America, Europe and Israel. Some of the trials dated back to 1964, while others contained data from as recently as 2001.

The trials compared the effectiveness of all forms of manual and six types of power toothbrushes with mechanically moving heads used over one-month and three-month periods.

According to the findings unveiled at the conference sponsored by the Forsyth Center for Evidence-Based Dentistry, only the rotational oscillation toothbrushes proved more effective than manual toothbrushes in reducing plaque and gingivitis. The results did not explain why the rotational oscillation toothbrushes were more effective than power toothbrushes with only circular or side-to-side motion.

While the study does not deal with long-term benefits to dental health, Richard Niederman, a periodontist and director of the Forsyth Center, called it "a huge first step."

The next step, he said, would be a review of use of the toothbrushes over three or five years.

"They reduce bacterial plaque that causes disease," he said of the rotating oscillating brushes. "The next thing to see is do they really reduce cavities or periodontal disease?"

The motion of power toothbrushes is up to 100 times that of manual brushing, Niederman said.

Dr. Kenneth Burrell, senior director of the Council on Scientific Affairs for the American Dental Association, said the findings, if they prove accurate, could be useful in helping dentists make recommendations to their patients.

"That still doesn't mean that every man, woman and child should abandon the toothbrush that they're currently using," Burrell said.

"Someone using the simplest manual toothbrush with good knowledge of how to brush and conscientious brushing can do just as well as somebody using a power toothbrush regardless of the design," Burrell said.

There are two parts that make up the effect of toothbrushing, Burrell explained. "One is the device you use, and the other is the person attached to device."

If you brush incorrectly, it doesn't matter what kind of toothbrush you use, he said.

"What this review is telling you is that an average person putting in an average effort is going to see a better effect than using other brushes."

Said William Shaw, who helped compile the data for the Cochrane Collaboration: "If you can afford a rotational oscillating power toothbrush and it feels good to you, it offers modest improvement in ability to clean your teeth."


Reference Source 89

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