Electric Toothbrushes Reduce Bacteria Better Than Manual Brushes, UB Study Finds

By Mary Beth Spina

Release Date: March 13, 1994 This content is archived.


SEATTLE -- Electric toothbrushes more effectively reduce levels of two bacteria associated with gum disease than manually held ones, University at Buffalo dental researchers reported today (March 13) at the American Association for Dental Research meeting.

Sixty-nine patients used manual brushes twice daily for a week.

They then were evenly divided into groups and given electric brushes manufactured by either Teledyne, Interplak or Braun to use for the remaining five weeks of the six-week study.

All three electric brushes more successfully removed the bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis and Prevotella intermedia than the manual brushes.

Levels of the two microorganisms, among the major culprits in causing adult tooth loss by destroying supporting bone, were measured at the beginning of the study and at regular intervals each week thereafter.

Levels of p. intermedia decreased during the week of manual brushing and in the first week after the electric brushes were introduced.

P. gingivalis increased during the manual-brush phase, but started to decrease once electric brushes were used at the end of the second week.

But over the remaining four weeks, p. gingivalis levels began to rise in groups using Interplak and Braun brushes but continued downward in the Teledyne users. In addition, more consistent reductions in plaque scores were found among the Teledyne users.

Users of the Interplak brush experienced consistently less bleeding, while all subjects had a similar decrease in inflammation throughout the study.

While manual toothbrushes do reduce bacterial levels slightly, electric brushes may be a better investment for patients who want to save their natural teeth, the researchers say.

Members of the research team are Maryanne L. Mather, clinical research coordinator; Michelle Bessinger, research assistant; Sebastian G. Ciancio, D.D.S.; Michael Kazmierczak, D.D.S.; Alex W. Ho, research support specialist in the Department of Oral Biology, and Russell J. Nisengard, D.D.S. The study was partially supported by a grant from Teledyne Water Pik.