PURPOSE: Currently, there is no consensus on recommendations for manual toothbrushing techniques between dentists, oral health therapists and dental companies. The aim of this systematic review is to identify and assess the quality of evidence of the effectiveness of manual toothbrushing techniques in the existing literature.
METHODS: A broad search was conducted on the electronic databases Medline via Ovid, PubMed and EBSCO Dentistry & Oral Sciences. Included studies examined manual toothbrushing technique efficiency. Articles were assessed utilising the Cochrane Collaboration's tool for assessing risk of bias. Thirteen studies met the inclusion criteria and were included in this review. These included five randomised controlled trials (RCT), seven experimental non-randomised control studies and one in vitro study.
RESULTS: Of the 3190 articles identified, 40 were relevant to manual toothbrushing and 13 were included in the final review. Studies indicating statistically significantly superior plaque removal for a given technique were Bass (one), modified Bass (one), Charter's (two), Fones (two), scrub (two), roll (one), modified Stillman (one), toothpick method (one). Four studies exhibited no statistically significant difference in effectiveness of plaque removal. Unfortunately, considerable variation was found between studies, making a definitive conclusion impossible in terms of an ideal manual toothbrushing technique that would promote plaque removal and reduce gingivitis.
CONCLUSION: There is still insufficient evidence for suggesting that one toothbrushing method is more effective than another in plaque removal and reduction of gingivitis. Excessive variability in many aspects of the design and methodology of the selected studies hinder conclusions on an ideal manual toothbrushing technique. Experimental randomised controlled trials that follow the CONSORT guidelines are required to provide adequate-quality evidence and make any definitive conclusions on the relative effectiveness of manual toothbrushing techniques.