Which specific type of power toothbrush is the best fit for a particular patient? Ultimately, the recommendation should be based on clinical effectiveness in plaque, gingivitis, stain, and calculus control and safety, with allowances for patient preference. Dental professionals should consider the breadth of clinical research support, as well as assessments of systematic reviews of independent association such as the Cochrane Collaboration.
Rechargeable brushes typically are equipped with the most features, varying in cost based on the extent of high-tech options to monitor safety, brushing time, and ensure the best brushing experience. Some models (e.g., Oral-B premium brushes) offer several custom brushing modes, such as those for whitening benefits, sensitive teeth, or gum-massaging action. Some manufacturers offer a variety of brush heads addressing individual patient oral needs.
Currently the oscillating-rotating power brush technology is the one most recommended by dentists worldwide. Over 150 clinical investigations demonstrate the efficacy and safety of the oscillating-rotating technology, and a large systematic review of published clinical trial literature by the Cochrane Collaboration concluded that only this class of power toothbrush was proven more effective than manual brushes for plaque and gingivitis reduction.6 An extensive independent review has also concluded that oscillating-rotating power toothbrushes have been shown to be as gentle on teeth and gums as a manual toothbrush.44 Numerous, interchangeable brush head options are available for customization to patients needs and preferences. Clinical studies and surveys have found increased levels of patient compliance and/or nearly all participants intending to continue with usage of oscillating-rotating brushes.8,50
Sonic toothbrushes are widely available, and there is recent clinical research to support the effectiveness of sonic power technology in plaque, gingivitis, and stain reduction.24,25,33 Clinical research has demonstrated an increased level of compliance relative to a manual toothbrush with use of a sonic brush.48 Brush head options are available. Some patients favor the manual-like brush heads and sensorial experience of a sonic power toothbrush.
Counter/Rotational; Circular/Rotary; Other (Ionic, Ultrasonic, etc.) Brushes
Limited selection. Supporting research is older and/or limited. Some patients may favor the mode of action/feel of these brushes.
Battery-powered brushes represent the lowest end of the cost spectrum, and as such may be valued by those seeking a budget-friendly power brush option, or who want to test the waters with power toothbrushes with a minimal cost investment. These brushes are highly portable. Clinical research has established that some brands outperform manual toothbrushes in plaque reduction and gingivitis reduction.