Should I Use a Manual or a Powered Toothbrush?

Drs. Sfondouris & Prestipino • October, 17 2023

In keeping with the theme of hygiene, a recent systematic review investigated what is better to remove plaque a manual or an automatic toothbrush. Systematic reviews (Figure 1) are a type of scientific study that uses systematic methods to collect secondary data, critically appraise research studies, and synthesize studies.  They are designed to provide a complete, exhaustive summary of current evidence relevant to a specific research question. The doctors routinely use the information from systematic reviews to provide the most up to date oral health care to their patients.

There are numerous types of powered toothbrushes on the market that range 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 periodontal disease. 

A 2014 systematic review evaluated whether a manual or a powered toothbrush was more effective in reducing plaque. The systematic review included adult randomized clinical studies. The evidence shows benefits in using a powered toothbrush when compared with a manual toothbrush. There was an 11% reduction in plaque at 1-3 months of use, and a 21% reduction in plaque when assessed after three months of use. 

Based upon the results of this systematic review, a powered tooth brush was more effective in reducing plaque compared to a manual toothbrush.

Due to many different types of powered toothbrushes included in the study, one cannot make a definitive statement as to which powered toothbrush is better. Rather if used properly, a powered toothbrush can be more effective compared to a manual toothbrush. 

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