It’s also a very economical step to take for your health. Oral hygiene is a relatively small investment of time and money that can yield great rewards. But to do it right, you need the right tools.
Which One Will You Use?
Overall, the most important question for toothbrushes is which one you will actually use. Any toothbrush that you will use regularly will give much better results than a toothbrush that you’ll use sporadically or not at all.
So, regardless of the data we discuss about efficacy, remember that you shouldn’t select a toothbrush that you don’t use as often just because it’s supposedly better. Of course, you may not know what you like until you try a powered brush or two, and it’s worth trying them, especially if you are experiencing early signs of gum disease.
Powered Toothbrushes Clean Better
Despite the above caveat, there is good evidence that powered toothbrushes are actually better at cleaning your teeth. We talked about the difference in 2013. Then a 2014 Cochrane Review looked at 56 studies comparing the two types of toothbrushes, which included over 5000 subjects. These studies showed that using a powered toothbrush reduced plaque and gum disease. Using a toothbrush for one to three months reduced plaque by 11% and gingivitis (a minor form of gum disease) by 6%. Use for longer than three months resulted in a 21% reduction in plaque and an 11% reduction in gingivitis.
The Cochrane Review is considered the gold standard for evidence-based medicine, and it’s rare to see a review that comes up with such clear evidence. Although reviewers noted that the long-term health effects are still unknown, they rated the quality of evidence as “moderate,” which is pretty solid by their standards.
Oscillating Might Be Better Than Sonic
There are two common types of powered toothbrushes available today: oscillating and sonic.
Oscillating toothbrushes have a round head that spins to clean teeth. Sonic toothbrushes generate a back-and-forth motion with their power. They move at a much higher speed, which creates vibrations that are transmitted via saliva into through the mouth. These “sonic” waves are the source of their name.
Unfortunately, we don’t have the guidance of a Cochrane Review to help us here However, our own review of six studies showed that in the five newer studies, oscillating toothbrushes performed better than sonic toothbrushes. One older study favored the sonic toothbrush.
However, it should be noted that a 2017 systematic review showed that neither type of powered toothbrush was better, though both were better than manual.
Professional Cleanings Matter, Too
Your home hygiene routine may be the most important part of your oral health maintenance, but regular checkups and professional cleanings are critical. At our office, we can support your home hygiene by advising on techniques and cleaning away the hardened plaque that your toothbrush won’t get. We also offer CariFree products that can support your oral hygiene efforts.