Efficacy of inter-dental mechanical plaque control in managing gingivitis--a meta-review

J Clin Periodontol. 2015 Apr:42 Suppl 16:S92-105. doi: 10.1111/jcpe.12363.


Focused question: What is the effect of mechanical inter-dental plaque removal in addition to toothbrushing, on managing gingivitis using various formats of inter-dental self-care in adults based on evidence gathered from existing systematic reviews?

Material & methods: Three Internet sources were searched by a strategy designed to include systematic reviews on inter-dental cleaning devices. Plaque and gingivitis scores were the primary parameters of interest. Characteristics of selected papers were extracted. The potential risk of bias was estimated and the acquired evidence was graded.

Results: Screening of 395 papers resulted in six systematic reviews. Two papers evaluated the efficacy of dental floss, two of inter-dental brushes (IDB), one of woodsticks and one of the oral irrigator. Weak evidence of unclear or small magnitude was retrieved that supported dental floss, woodsticks and the oral irrigator to reduce gingivitis in addition to toothbrushing. No concomitant evidence for an effect on plaque emerged. There is moderate evidence that IDBs in combination with toothbrushing reduce both plaque and gingivitis.

Conclusion: Evidence suggests that inter-dental cleaning with IDBs is the most effective method for inter-dental plaque removal. The majority of available studies fail to demonstrate that flossing is generally effective in plaque removal. All investigated devices for inter-dental self-care seem to support the management of gingivitis, however, to a varying extend.

Keywords: Inter-dental cleaning; dental plaque; floss; gingivitis; inter-dental brushes; meta-review; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Dental Devices, Home Care*
  • Dental Plaque / prevention & control*
  • Dental Plaque Index
  • Gingivitis / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Periodontal Index
  • Self Care
  • Toothbrushing / methods
  • Treatment Outcome