Reports & Studies

Some information about manual toothbrushes

PD Dr. Kristina Bertl, PhD MSc MBA

Dagmar Else Slot is probably one of the most published dental hygienists, and her systematic reviews always make for interesting reading. This time she has published a review on the topic of the efficacy of manual toothbrushes, and this study also helps us to answer the question: Does it really make a difference whether I quickly brush my teeth for only one minute, or if I brush them for two?

Some information about manual toothbrushes

This review (Slot 2012) pooled all the studies that have recorded plaque scores before and after a single tooth brushing session with a manual toothbrush. In total, the data from 59 studies involving approximately 10,800 participants were analyzed.

The following conclusions were reached:

  • A single tooth brushing session with a manual toothbrush (without interdental cleaning) led to a reduction in plaque score by approximately 40%.
  • Three different toothbrush heads were compared with each other: ‘flat trim’, ‘multilevel’ and ‘angled’ – and advantages were found for the ‘angled’ design.
  • After one minute of tooth brushing, plaque scores fell by approximately 27%, and this could be increased by almost another 15% if the teeth were brushed for a second minute

A limitation here is that no details were gathered regarding the respective participant’s tooth brushing technique. In most of the studies (39 of 59), the participants completed the ‘brushing experiment’ using their usual technique without further instructions.

In short, when you are feeling tired before going to bed or are feeling stressed in the morning: yes, it is definitely worth brushing your teeth for that second minute! And that is also the message we should be giving our patients.


  1. Slot DE, Wiggelinkhuizen L, Rosema NAM, Van der Weijden GA. The efficacy of manual toothbrushes following a brushing exercise: a systematic review. Int J Dent Hygiene 10, 2012; 187–197 DOI: 10.1111/j.1601-5037.2012.00557.x