AADR 2018: Ultrasonic toothbrushes stand up to the test

2017 03 16 10 03 08 830 Toothbrush Electric 400

Ultrasonic toothbrushes appear to effectively remove plaque and boost gingival health, according to pilot study presented this week at the 2018 American Association of Dental Research (AADR) meeting in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Ultrasonic, or ultrasound, toothbrushes clean teeth by using high-frequency vibrations that are almost out of the human hearing range. These toothbrushes generate ultrasound waves that are reportedly strong enough to remove plaque from teeth. They also shouldn't be confused with sonic toothbrushes, such as those made by Philips or Oral-B.

A team of Japanese researchers enrolled 43 dental hygiene students in a single-blind, randomized clinical trial to test whether one ultrasonic toothbrush, the ReClean by Kyowa, could effectively remove plaque and improve gingival health. The participants were divided into three test groups:

  • Group 1 brushed with a manual toothbrush twice per day for three minutes.
  • Group 2 brushed with an ultrasound toothbrush twice per day for three minutes.
  • Group 3 received oral prophylaxis at the beginning of the study, then brushed with an ultrasound toothbrush twice per day for three minutes.

Students from the ultrasonic toothbrush group showed significantly decreased plaque index (PI) and gingival index (GI) scores after eight weeks of use. Those who brushed with manual toothbrushes and those who received oral prophylaxis at the onset of the study showed significantly decreased GI scores only.

"This study showed that using ultrasound toothbrushes had additional effects on plaque removal," lead researcher Akane Takenouchi, RDH, from the Taiyo School of Dental Hygiene in Tokyo, told DrBicuspid.com. "To be honest, I had suspicions about the effects of ultrasound."

Based on the findings, Takenouchi would recommend ultrasonic toothbrushes to patients. However, she also cautioned that this was only a pilot study and that she plans to continue this research in a clinical trial.

"There are many kinds of oral care goods these days," Takenouchi said. "We dental professionals have to recognize their effects. Therefore, I believe that this kind of clinical trial is very important."

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