Powered toothbrushes are as safe to use as manual toothbrushes

shutterstock_77733628-powered toothbrush

Powered toothbrushes (PTB) have been available since the 1960s and Cochrane reviews have shown that powered toothbrushes with a rotation oscillation action reduce plaque and gingivitis more than manual toothbrushing (MTB). The main focus of these review has been their effectiveness rather than the safety of these brushes.  Van der Weijden et al undertook a review if the safety of oscillating-rotating PTB in 2011 and this has now been critically summarised by the American Dental Association Center for Evidence-Based Dentistry.

The summary notes that that the review was based on a well designed search, quality assessment of the studies and inclusion of all but the lowest levels of evidence. the evidence was  very heterogeneous.  Given the scientific challenge of proving a negative  this comprehensive review finds no evidence that PTB cause harm to the hard or soft tissues of the mouth.

Go to ADA-EBD Summary

Evidence-based Dentistry commentary

Journal of Evidence Based Dental Practice commentary

Van der Weijden FA, Campbell SL, Dörfer CE, González-Cabezas C, Slot DE. Safety of oscillating-rotating powered brushes compared to manual toothbrushes: a systematic review. J Periodontol. 2011 Jan;82(1):5-24. Epub 2010 Sep 10. Review. PubMed PMID: 20831367.

Funding:- the  Van der Weijden review was part funded by Procter and Gamble

Related Cochrane Reviews

Robinson P, Deacon SA, Deery C, Heanue M, Walmsley AD, Worthington HV, Glenny AM, Shaw BC. Manual versus powered toothbrushing for oral health. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2005, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD002281. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD002281.pub2.

Deacon SA, Glenny AM, Deery C, Robinson PG, Heanue M, Walmsley AD, Shaw WC. Different powered toothbrushes for plaque control and gingival health. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 12. Art. No.: CD004971. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004971.pub2.


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Derek Richards

Derek Richards is a specialist in dental public health, Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Dentistry and Specialist Advisor to the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP) Development Team. A former editor of the Evidence-Based Dentistry Journal and chief blogger for the Dental Elf website until December 2023. Derek has been involved with a wide range of evidence-based initiatives both nationally and internationally since 1994. Derek retired from the NHS in 2019 remaining as a part-time senior lecturer at Dundee Dental School until the end of 2023.

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