The electric toothbrush: a review


Objective: To review the use of the vibratory motion of electric toothbrushes to remove plaque and improve gingival health. Recent developments of such devices include the introduction of a small rotary head motion and increasing the frequency of vibration. DATA SOURCES: Articles published in the international literature over the last 10 years.

Study Selection: There are two distinct areas of research: in-vitro studies and clinical trials. In-vitro studies have investigated the effects of cavitation and acoustic microstreaming. Their potential contribution to the action of the working electric toothbrush has been demonstrated in vitro. However their occurrence in the clinical situation has not been fully described. Clinical studies on electric toothbrushes have compared their plaque removing efficacy to either manual brushing or to other commercial electric toothbrushes.

Conclusions: Electric toothbrushes are more effective in plaque removal than manual brushing in closely supervised trials. There is clinical evidence that a small rotating brush rather than a side to side motion is more effective. However, further long-term clinical trials are needed to demonstrate improvements in gingival health which incorporate better controls for the different variables involved. This will assist practitioners to reach an objective assessment of such devices

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Walmsley, A. The electric toothbrush: a review. Br Dent J 182, 209–218 (1997).

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