Powered / electric tooth brushes vs. manual toothbrushes

Which is better for maintaining oral health? electric toothbrushes or manual toothbrushes? A systematic review

Removing plaque through effective tooth brushing has an important role in the prevention of gum disease and tooth decay. Dental plaque is the primary cause of gum inflammation, and this can lead to more serious oral conditions. The build up of plaque can also lead to tooth decay. There are different kinds of powered or electric toothbrushes available to the public, at a range of prices. Powered toothbrushes work in different ways – some move from side to side, and some in a circular motion. Are these kind of toothbrushes better to use than a manual toothbrush? Does their use lead to less inflammation in the gums?


Electric toothbrushes vs. manual toothbrushes research (systematic review)

A systematic review of the evidence, considering whether a powered or electric toothbrush is better than a manual toothbrush at maintaining oral health by reducing plaque and gum inflammation.


Who conducted the research?

The research was conducted by a team led by Munirah Yaacob, on behalf of the Cochrane Oral Health Group. Helen V. Worthington, Scott A. Deacon, Chris Deery, A. Damien Walmsley, Peter G. Robinson and Anne-Marie Glenny were also on the team.


What did the evidence say?

There was evidence that there is a benefit in using a powered toothbrush compared to a manual toothbrush. Plaque was reduced by 11% after one to three months of use, and by 21% after three months of use. For gum inflammation, there was a 6% reduction after one to three months of use, and an 11% reduction when assessed after three months of use.


What are the implications for dentists and the general public?

This review has found that compared with manual toothbrushes, powered toothbrushes are more effective in reducing plaque and gum inflammation. However, there were inconsistencies in the trials when reporting cost, reliability and side effects.