Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Buzz on Electronic Toothbrushes

Rotating power toothbrushes remove plaque and reduce risk of gum disease better than ordinary toothbrushes. That's the finding of a review of 42 studies involving 3,855 patients, by researchers at England's University of Sheffield School of Dentistry. Reviewers found that people who used powered brushes with oscillating bristle heads -- ones that rotate in alternating directions -- had 11 percent less plaque and 6 percent less gum disease than those who used manual brushes. In studies longer than three months, oscillating brush users had 17 percent less gum disease.

Circle game Oscillating brushes also worked better than back-and-forth power brushes. Researchers found the back-and-forthers, including newer ionic brushes, which are supposed to give a tiny electric charge to the tooth surface, are no better than manual brushes for reducing plaque and gum disease.


Time and motion Researchers theorized that power brush users may invest more time in tooth care. "If you put in the minutes, there's no reason why you couldn't have your mouth completely clean with a manual toothbrush," said dentistry professor Peter Robinson, who conducted the study for the Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates research.

Cliff Whall, a dentist with the American Dental Association, agreed. "There's nothing magic about the power brushes," he said. "The problem is that most people brush for 15 to 20 seconds, and that's not enough."

Alexandria dentist Bernard Carr said he can see the difference in patients who use electric versus manual toothbrushes. Carr encourages bad brushers to buy a power model with a two-minute timer that lets them know when they're done.


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