Which factors have affected dental status in the last two decades?
PD Dr. Kristina Bertl, PhD MSc MBA
In Germany, cross-sectional studies of oral health are carried out at regular intervals (German Oral Health Study). Data from five cross-sectional studies are available thus far, and the sixth study is scheduled to take place between 2021 and 2023.
These cross-sectional studies make it possible to capture and compare the development of oral health in different age groups. Based on this huge pool of data, many different scientific questions can be investigated. For example, Pitchika et al. (2021) looked at the extent to which using an electric toothbrush and interdental brushes results in improved oral health (in terms of less caries activity, lower incidence of periodontal disease, and tooth retention). To answer this question, the authors used the data from the third (1997), fourth (2005) and fifth (2014) German Oral Health Study.
They observed the following interesting trends:
- Among younger adults (35–44 years), use of an electric toothbrush tripled between 1997 and 2014, from 14% to 48%.
- Among younger adults (35–44 years), use of interdental brushes doubled between 2005 and 2014, from 3.5% to 7%.
- Among younger seniors (65–74 years), use of an electric toothbrush increased sixfold between 1997 and 2014, from 5% to 33%.
- Among younger seniors (65–74 years), use of interdental brushes doubled between 2005 and 2014, from 9% to 18%.
- Between 1997 and 2014, the number of caries-free surfaces increased substantially among both younger adults and younger seniors: from 70 to 108 caries-free surfaces among younger adults, and from 31 to 81 among younger seniors.
- The number of remaining teeth and the number of participants with at least 20 teeth also increased substantially. For example, in 1997, 87% of younger adults had ≥ 20 teeth, whereas in 2014 the figure was 97%. Among younger seniors, this value almost tripled (from 21% to 55%).
By looking at these data in relation to each other, statistical analysis revealed that the use of an electric toothbrush and interdental brushes could have played a decisive role here and probably contributed positively to a caries-free dentition and longer retention of teeth – particularly the use of interdental brushes, and particularly among younger seniors.
Pitchika V, Jordan R, Micheelis W, Welk A, Kocher T & Holtfreter B. Impact of Powered Toothbrush Use and Interdental Cleaning on Oral Health. Journal of Dental Research, 2021, Vol. 100(5) 487–495. DOI: 10.1177/0022034520973952