Controlling plaque accumulation is imperative to good oral health. Plaque accumulation leads to inflammation that can cause dental disease if not managed properly. In a clinical trial published in 2021 in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene the authors aimed to “evaluate the plaque removal efficacy of a newly developed electric-powered ionic toothbrush vs. a manual toothbrush.”1
Multiple studies have shown powered toothbrushes remove between 11% and 21% more plaque than manual toothbrushes. Powered toothbrushes achieve this by using designs that improve plaque removal even when less than ideal brushing techniques are used. However, the newly developed ionic toothbrush changes the polarity of the tooths surface which facilitates plaque removal. Plaque is negatively charged, while the saliva provides positive ions that allows plaque to be easily absorbed on the tooth surface. The ionic toothbrushes mechanism of action is via the production of negative ions which blocked the absorption of plaque.
Thirty health dentists volunteered for the trial. This was a randomized, single blinded, cross-over clinical trial that required two visits. Volunteers were instructed not to brush or perform any oral hygiene practices for 24 hours before their visit. Volunteer were also asked to refrain from eating, drinking or smoking for 4 hours prior to each visit. Volunteers underwent full exam, including periodontal evaluations, documenting probing depths and bleeding on probing. Volunteers were then disclosed with plaque staining solution, full mouth oral photography and plaque scores prior to brushing were documented. The volunteers were then randomly assigned to brush with a manual toothbrush or the ionic toothbrush for 2 minutes without a mirror. The volunteers were immediately re-photographed and post-brushing plaque scores were documented.
The results showed plaque reduction was significantly higher in the ionic toothbrush group. Specifically, interdental and the premolar and molar areas displayed significant plaque reduction in the ionic toothbrush group. However, the plaque reduction in the central incisors did not differ between the two groups.
The study has multiple limitations, selection bias is of concern as dentists were volunteers as opposed to the general population, additionally the authors note the complete potential of the ionic toothbrush was not explored in this study.
The authors conclude, “the ionic powered toothbrush was significantly more effective than a manual one in reducing plaque. Such findings may provide an additional option for daily oral hygiene practices of patients aiming for the improvement in plaque control.”
Have you tried an ionic toothbrush? Would you consider recommending it for your patients? What type of powered toothbrush do you currently recommend, or do you prefer a manual toothbrush for your patients? What type of toothbrush do you have for your personal use?
- Ikawa T, Mizutani K, Sudo T, Kano C, Ikeda Y, Akizuki T, Kobayashi H, Izumi Y, Iwata T. Clinical comparison of an electric-powered ionic toothbrush and a manual toothbrush in plaque reduction: A randomized clinical trial. Int J Dent Hyg. 2021 Feb;19(1):93-98. doi: 10.1111/idh.12475. Epub 2020 Nov 1. PMID: 33029896.