Background: Inconclusive evidence exists in the literature with regard to the additional effect of the use of dentifrice on plaque removal. The present study was undertaken to test whether the use of dentifrice during toothbrushing contributes to the instant cleaning efficacy of the brushing procedure.
Methods: Three groups of patients, 40 subjects each, were randomly assigned to one of three dentifrices that differed with respect to the relative dentin abrasivity (RDA) value. After a 48-hour plaque accumulation, subjects brushed under supervision in a split-mouth order with or without the use of dentifrice (total time=2 minutes).
Results: Plaque reductions varied between 51% and 58% for the three dentifrices. The overall analysis showed a mean difference of 3% in plaque reduction in favor of brushing without dentifrice (P=0.017). The type of dentifrice did not influence this observed difference (P=0.506). Also, the order of the brushing procedure (starting the brushing procedure with or without dentifrice) had no interaction with the effect of dentifrice on the brushing (P=0.187).
Conclusions: The use of dentifrice does not contribute to the instant mechanical plaque removal during manual toothbrushing. A higher dentifrice abrasivity does not seem to contribute to increased plaque removal with a manual toothbrush. It appears that the mechanical action provided by the use of a toothbrush is the main factor in the plaque-removing process.