Purpose: To determine differences in interproximal plaque mass and fluoride retention with different modes of toothbrushing and flossing.
Materials and methods: Forty-seven subjects in good health used four treatments in a four-period, randomized, crossover design: 1) manual brushing only; 2) manual brushing and daily flossing; 3) electric brushing using a rotational oscillation toothbrush; and 4) electric brushing using a sonic toothbrush. Subjects used a standard sodium fluoride dentifrice during the eight-day experimental periods and a fluoride-free dentifrice during the seven-day washout periods between treatments. Interproximal plaque samples were taken on Day 1 and on Day 8, weighed, and analyzed for fluoride content.
Results: The amount of interproximal plaque was lowest with sonic brushing, which left 43-65% less plaque than all other treatments. Manual brushing and flossing yielded less plaque than manual brushing alone and rotational oscillation brushing. Differences were statistically significant (p < 0.05) for treatment; there was no time effect on plaque mass. For fluoride retention, at Day 1 sonic brushing gave at least 54% more fluoride in the interproximal plaque than all other treatments, which was significant. All treatments demonstrated a significant increase in fluoride concentration with time except manual brushing and flossing, which showed a significant decrease. At Day 8, the fluoride concentration was significantly higher for sonic brushing than for manual brushing or rotational oscillation brushing by over 40%, and all treatments exhibited significantly greater fluoride than the manual brushing and flossing combination.
Conclusion: The mode of toothbrushing may impact the amount of plaque retained interproximally and its fluoride concentration.