A clinical trial was designed to test the relative numbers of gingival lesions caused during standardized brushing of the teeth of 22 volunteer dental nurse students with a manual soft multitufted, a manual soft V-shaped, and an electric toothbrush. First, the left or the right side of the jaws of each subject was brushed by a dental hygienist using the manual V-shaped or the electric brush, and the other side using the manual multitufted brush. At the 2nd brushing 1 week later, the same hygienist used the multitufted brush for brushing the side contralateral to the one in which it was used the 1st week and the V-shaped manual brush instead of the electric and vice versa. After each brushing, the number of new gingival lesions was recorded and the cleansing effect evaluated by assessment of the amount of remaining plaque. This examiner was unaware of the type of brush used. The V-shaped manual toothbrush was found to have caused more gingival abrasion than the electric toothbrush (P less than 0.005) and a similar difference was found between the multitufted manual and the electric toothbrush (P less than 0.05). There was no clinically significant difference between the plaque removing effects of the 3 brushes tested.