Does dentifrice use help to remove plaque? A systematic review

J Clin Periodontol. 2016 Dec;43(12):1050-1058. doi: 10.1111/jcpe.12615. Epub 2016 Oct 3.


Aims: The aim of this systematic review was to establish the efficacy of brushing with and without a dentifrice for dental plaque removal.

Materials and methods: MEDLINE-PubMed, Cochrane-CENTRAL, EMBASE and other electronic databases were searched. The inclusion criteria were randomized controlled trials and controlled clinical trials and subjects ≥18 years of age with good general health. Studies that evaluated the effect of toothbrushing with a dentifrice compared to brushing without a dentifrice were included. Data were extracted from the eligible studies, and a meta-analysis was performed where feasible.

Result: The search was conducted until June 2016 and retrieved 10 eligible publications that included 20 comparisons. On average, 49.2% of plaque was removed when brushing was performed with a dentifrice, and 50.3% of plaque was removed when toothbrushing was performed without a dentifrice. The descriptive analysis indicated that the majority of the comparisons did not show an additional effect of dentifrice use. Regarding the meta-analysis of post-brushing scores, no significant difference was observed between toothbrushing with and without a dentifrice (DiffM 0.00, 95%CI [-0.05: 0.05], p = 0.91). The meta-analysis of incremental data (as means or percentages) supported and strengthened these findings.

Conclusion: The cumulative evidence for this systematic review demonstrates that there is moderate certainty that toothbrushing with a dentifrice does not provide an added effect for the mechanical removal of dental plaque.

Keywords: dentifrice; oral hygiene; plaque; systematic review; toothbrushing; toothpaste.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Dental Plaque Index
  • Dental Plaque*
  • Dentifrices
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Toothbrushing
  • Toothpastes


  • Dentifrices
  • Toothpastes