Power Toothbrushes Superior
By Bill Berkrot, Reuters Health
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Use of a certain
kind of power toothbrush each day could keep the dental hygienist
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
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
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
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
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
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