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Study: Advantage Seen in Electric Toothbrushes

Better at Fighting Plaque, Gum Disease; Manual Brushes Still Good
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WebMD Health News

April 19, 2005 - Certain types of electric toothbrushes may be better at fighting plaque and gum diseasefighting plaque and gum disease than manual toothbrushes, say British researchers.

Specifically, they're talking about electric toothbrusheselectric toothbrushes with bristles that rotate in one direction, and then the other -- rotational oscillating toothbrushes.

When used for three months, those electric toothbrushes removed plaque 11% more effectively than manual toothbrushes, a review of toothbrush studies shows. They also reduced gingivitis by 6% over manual toothbrushes. This represented a 17% reduction in bleeding of the gums.

The report appears in The Cochrane Library, which focuses on health care research.

Nothing Wrong With Manual Toothbrushes

You don't have to have a toothbrush that James Bond would love. You don't even need a powered brush of any kind. Manual models can do the same job, say Peter G. Robinson, PhD, and colleagues.

"There is overwhelming evidence that toothbrushing reduces gingivitis. It may prevent periodontitis [gum disease] and certainly prevents tooth decay if carried out in conjunction with fluoride toothpaste," the researchers write.

"These benefits occur whether the brush is manual or powered and the results of this review do not indicate that toothbrushing is only worthwhile with a powered toothbrush," they write.

Research Reviewed

Robinson's team reviewed 42 trials of various kinds of toothbrushes. The studies had a combined total of more than 3,800 participants.

Some of the reviewed trials were sponsored by companies that make electric toothbrushes, and others didn't specify their funding source. Commercial funding didn't seem to affect the results, says Robinson's report.

Longer studies are needed, says Robinson. Toothbrushing and oral health have been linked to lower risk of heart disease.linked to lower risk of heart disease. But the studies reviewed were too short to tell if electric toothbrush use had health benefits beyond plaque and gum disease.

Personal Preference Counts

Cost and reliability of toothbrushes weren't major topics in the reviewed studies. Manual toothbrushes are less expensive and don't have gears that could break.

Some people might prefer electric toothbrushes because they love gadgets or find it hard to use a manual toothbrush, says Robinson.

The American Dental Association recommends that people ask their dentists about what types of oral care products will be most effective for them.

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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