Short-term and long-term effectiveness of powered toothbrushes in promoting periodontal health during orthodontic treatment: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop. 2017 Dec;152(6):753-766.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.ajodo.2017.09.003.


Introduction: Although powered toothbrushes have been reported to reduce gingivitis more than manual toothbrushes in the general population, the evidence regarding orthodontic patients has been inconclusive. Thus, we aimed to compare their effectiveness in relation to any available parameter regarding oral health in orthodontic patients with fixed appliances.

Methods: Searches without restrictions for published and unpublished literature and hand searching took place up to August 2017. Oral-health relevant data from randomized controlled trials of at least 4-weeks duration comparing powered and manual tooth brushing without supervision were reviewed. Data were classified as short term (assessments at 1-3 months) and long term (assessments at >3 months), and the random-effects method was used to combine treatment effects. Individual study risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool, and the quality of evidence was evaluated according to the Grades of Recommendation, Assessment, Development and Evaluation approach.

Results: The initially identified articles were finally reduced to 9 randomized controlled trials investigating the periodontal health in 434 patients. Eight studies followed patients up to 3 months, and 1 up to 12 months during treatment. One study was at low and the rest at unclear risk of bias. Overall, in the short term, there was low-quality evidence that powered toothbrushes provide a statistically significant benefit compared with manual brushing with regard to the gingival index (weighted mean difference, -0.079; 95% confidence interval, -0.146 to -0.012; P = 0.021) and indexes assessing gingival bleeding (standardized mean difference, -0.637; 95% confidence interval, -1.092 to -0.183; P = 0.006). In the long term, only 1 available study showed a statistically significant benefit of powered over manual toothbrushes with regard to gingival index and bleeding. No differences were observed in probing pocket depth and relative attachment loss. For the rotation-oscillation brushes that involved the greatest body of evidence, statistically significant reductions in gingival index and bleeding were demonstrated only in the long-term study. No included study provided quantified measurements regarding caries activity.

Conclusions: Overall, powered toothbrushes may promote gingival health better than manual toothbrushes in orthodontic patients. However, no type demonstrated clear superiority. Better study standardization and reporting in longer follow-up studies are necessary to elucidate the clinical relevance of these results.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Dental Devices, Home Care
  • Humans
  • Oral Health*
  • Orthodontics*
  • Periodontal Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Time Factors
  • Toothbrushing / instrumentation*
  • Treatment Outcome