Summary Review/Oral Health

Evidence-Based Dentistry (2014) 15, 6–7. doi:10.1038/sj.ebd.6400980

Triclosan produces statistically significant reduction in plaque, gingivitis and caries but not clinically important benefit

Question: Are triclosan/copolymer containing fluoride toothpastes more effective than fluoride toothpastes for control of caries, plaque and gingivitis in children and adults?

Ferne Kraglund1

1Department of Dental Clinical Sciences, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Riley P, Lamont T. Triclosan/copolymer containing toothpastes for oral health. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2013; 12: Art. No.: CD010514. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD010514.pub2.

Address for correspondence: Luisa Fernandez Mauleffinch, Review Group Co-ordinator, Cochrane Oral Health Group, MANDEC, School of Dentistry, University of Manchester, Higher Cambridge Street, Manchester, M15 6FH, UK. E-mail:



Data sources


The Cochrane Oral Health Group's Trials Register, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), Medline, Embase and the US National Institutes of Health Trials Register.

Study selection


Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of parallel or crossover design, (with a sufficient wash-out period) of at least six months duration, and irrespective of language or publication status.

Data extraction and synthesis


Study assessment and data extraction were carried out independently by at least two reviewers. Meta-analysis was conducted using random-effects models when there were at least four studies (fixed-effect models when fewer than four studies), reporting mean differences (MD) for continuous data and risk ratios (RR) for dichotomous data.



Thirty studies involving 14,835 patients were included. Ten studies were considered to be a low risk of bias, nine at high risk and the remaining 11 were assessed as at unclear risk. After six to seven months use of triclosan/copolymer toothpaste there was a statistically significant reduction in plaque in favour of triclosan/copolymer of 22% (20 studies, 2675 patients, moderate-quality evidence).

There was also a statistically significant reduction in plaque severity of 41% (13 studies, 1850 patients, moderate-quality evidence). Triclosan/copolymer toothpaste also reduced gingival inflammation statistically significantly by 22% after six to nine months of use (20 studies, 2743 patients, moderate-quality evidence). After 36 months of use there was no evidence of a difference between triclosan/copolymer toothpaste and control in the development of periodontitis (attachment loss) (RR 0.92, 95% CI 0.67 to 1.27, one study, 480 patients, low-quality evidence). After 24 to 36 months of use, triclosan/copolymer toothpaste slightly reduced coronal caries by about 5% (four studies, 9692 patients, high-quality evidence). One study (1357 patients, moderate-quality evidence) suggested that after 36 months of use triclosan/copolymer toothpaste probably reduced root caries.

After six months of use triclosan/copolymer toothpaste may have reduced the mean total calculus by about 15%. There were no data available for meta-analysis regarding adverse effects, but 22 studies (73%) reported that there were no adverse effects caused by either the experimental or control toothpaste.

There was considerable heterogeneity present in the meta-analyses for plaque, gingivitis and calculus. Plaque and gingivitis showed such consistent results that it did not affect our conclusions, but the reader may wish to interpret the results with more caution.



There was moderate-quality evidence showing that toothpastes containing triclosan/copolymer, in addition to fluoride, reduced plaque, gingival inflammation and gingival bleeding when compared with fluoride toothpastes without triclosan/copolymer. These reductions may or may not be clinically important, and are evident regardless of initial plaque and gingivitis levels, or whether a baseline oral prophylaxis had taken place or not.

High-quality evidence showed that triclosan/copolymer toothpastes led to a small reduction in coronal caries. There was weaker evidence to show that triclosan/copolymer toothpastes may have reduced root caries and calculus, but insufficient evidence to show whether or not they prevented periodontitis. There do not appear to be any serious safety concerns regarding the use of triclosan/copolymer toothpastes in studies up to three years in duration.