A systematic review of powered vs manual toothbrushes in periodontal cause-related therapy

J Clin Periodontol. 2002:29 Suppl 3:39-54; discussion 90-1. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-051x.29.s-3.1.x.


Background: Power-driven toothbrushes (PDT) have been designed to improve the efficacy of oral hygiene. It is not clear how they compare in efficacy with manual toothbrushes in cause-related periodontal therapy.

Objectives: To evaluate the effectiveness of the use of a PDT as compared with a manual toothbrush (MT), in terms of gingival bleeding or inflammation resolution, in cause-related periodontal therapy.

Material and methods: An electronic (MEDLINE and Cochrane Oral Health Group Specialised Trials Register) and a manual search were made to detect studies which permitted the evaluation of the efficacy of PDT in the reduction of gingival bleeding or inflammation, and their effect on other secondary variables. Only randomized studies in adults, published in English up to June 2001, which compared a PDT with an MT, and evaluated the evolution of gingival bleeding or inflammation were included. The selection of articles, extraction of data and assessment of validity were made independently by several reviewers.

Results: Twenty-one studies were finally selected. The heterogeneity of the data prevented a quantitative analysis. A higher efficacy in the reduction of gingival bleeding or inflammation in the PDT patients was detected in 10 studies. This effect appears to be related to the capacity to reduce plaque, and is more evident in counter-rotational and oscillating-rotating brushes. No solid evidence was found for a higher efficacy of sonic brushes. In short-term studies with prophylaxis after initial examination, independently of the type of PDT tested, no significant differences were found.

Conclusion: The use of PDT, especially counter-rotational and oscillating-rotating brushes, can be beneficial in reducing the levels of gingival bleeding or inflammation. There is a need for methodological homogeneity in future studies in this field to enable quantitative analysis of their results.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dental Plaque / therapy*
  • Electricity
  • Equipment Design
  • Gingival Recession / etiology
  • Health Education, Dental
  • Humans
  • Periodontal Diseases / therapy*
  • Periodontal Index
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Sonication
  • Tooth Abrasion / etiology
  • Toothbrushing / adverse effects
  • Toothbrushing / instrumentation*