Sitting in the dentist’s chair, perhaps after a filling, many people have been told their teeth would be in better shape if they switched to an electric brush.
So they duly went out and spent up to £100 on one, relegating their old brush to the bathroom cabinet or the bin.
Now researchers have concluded they may as well have saved their money. The traditional brush is just as good at cleaning teeth as a great many electric ones.
Angled heads, raised bristles and handles that change colour the longer you use them may help, but it’s really down to the way the brush is used.
Electric, and more recently sonic toothbrushes, have become popular in the last ten years, with many dentists recommending them and a wave of high-profile marketing campaigns encouraging consumers to ‘trade-up’.
But the study, by the Cochrane Collaboration, an international nonprofit organisation which provides information on health care, found only one type of electric toothbrush, the ‘rotating-oscillating’ kind, gave better long- term results, and then the improvement was only ‘modest’.
Those that use ultrasonic frequencies and side-to-side motions were no better than ordinary brushes.
The researchers, led by Professor Peter Robinson, of the University of Sheffield, reviewed 42 dental trials, and 3,800 patients.
“People with electric toothbrushes that don’t have rotating- oscillating heads shouldn’t worry, as it won’t be doing them any harm,” said Professor Robinson.
“However, it is important that consumers know how well their toothbrush will work before making a choice.”
The researchers said: “People who enjoy the feel of a powered toothbrush and can afford one may be assured that it is at least as effective as traditional brushing and that there is no evidence that it will cause more injuries to the gum.”
A spokesman from the British Dental Association said: “Which toothbrush you use is a matter of personal choice, some of us feel more comfortable with a manual toothbrush, others with an electric one.”
He added that, regardless of the type of toothbrush used, the key to beating plaque and gum disease was to use fluoride toothpaste.
He said the main problem was that people tended to spend less than the recommended two minutes brushing their teeth, or failed to brush along the gum line.
“The most important thing is that, whatever brush you use, you use it properly, getting into the nooks and crannies and just under the gum line where harmful bacteria can sit,” added the spokesman
Electric toothbrushes clean teeth and gums much better than a manual toothbrush, according to the findings of a new study.
Scientists found that people who use an electric toothbrush have healthier gums, less tooth decay and also keep their teeth for longer, compared with those who use a manual toothbrush.1
The ground-breaking research took 11 years to complete and is the longest study of its kind into the effectiveness of electric versus manual brushing.
Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, believes this study backs up what smaller studies have previously suggested.
Dr Carter says: “Health experts have been speaking about the benefits of electric toothbrushes for many years. This latest piece of evidence is one of the strongest and clearest yet – electric toothbrushes are better for our oral health.
“Electric toothbrushes, especially those with heads that rotate in both directions, or ‘oscillating’ heads, are really effective at removing plaque. This helps keep tooth decay and gum disease at bay.
“As the science behind the advantages of electric toothbrushes is mounting, the decision whether to invest in one becomes much easier.”
A recent poll by the Oral Health Foundation found that less the one in two (49%) British adults currently use an electric toothbrush.2
For almost two-in-three (63%) electric toothbrush users, more effective cleaning is their reason behind the switch. More than a third (34%) have been persuaded to buy one because of the advice of a dentist while around one in nine (13%) have received an electric toothbrush as a gift.
For those who use a manual toothbrush, the cost of going electric is often a turn off. However, Dr Carter says that electric toothbrushes are more accessible than ever before.
“As technology has developed, the cost of having an electric toothbrush becomes even more affordable,” adds Dr Carter. “Battery-powered toothbrushes are available for as little as £10 while electric brushes can be had for as little as £30.
“Given the advantages of electric toothbrushes, having one is an excellent investment and could really benefit the health of your mouth.”
Further findings from the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, found that electric toothbrushes resulted in 22% less gum recession and 18% less tooth decay over the 11-year period.
Dr Nigel Carter says : “It’s important that whether you currently use an electric toothbrush or not, you should be following a good oral health routine.
“That means that whether you’re using a manual or electric toothbrush you should be brushing for two minutes, twice a day, with a fluoride toothpaste. Also, a good oral health routine would not be complete without using an interdental brush or floss once a day.
“If you follow a good oral health routine then whether you use a manual or electric toothbrush, you’ll have a healthy mouth either way.”
For more oral health information you can head over to www.dentalhealth.org. Alternatively, you can call our free and impartial Dental Helpline on 01788 539780.