Tooth brushing in just 10 seconds?
PD Dr. Kristina Bertl, PhD MSc MBA
As discussed in a previous report, brushing teeth ‘properly’ continues to prove a challenge for our patients. As a result, there is currently significant interest in automating, simplifying and accelerating the entire process. A few years ago, the idea was born of creating a device that could automatically clean all teeth simultaneously in just a few seconds. A prototype based on this idea was produced in Austria, but still proved too inefficient in the context of a clinical trial (Schnabl et al. 2021). Some of the shortcomings of this prototype were worked on by other companies, who attempted to improve on the idea. In one example, a French product used nylon bristles angled at 45° to the gum to better imitate the BASS technique . This automatic toothbrush has now been tested as part of a clinical trial (Keller et al. 2023).
In total, 20 participants took part in this study, which was planned to be a cross-over study. This meant that all participants brushed in two rounds after a period of three days, in each case without home oral hygiene, either with the automatic toothbrush or with a manual toothbrush . The brushing time was five seconds per jaw (meaning a total of ten seconds) with the automatic toothbrush and a maximum of four minutes with the manual toothbrush. In a third round, the teeth were again cleaned with the automatic toothbrush, but for 15 seconds per jaw (a total of 30 seconds) . The authors reached the following conclusions:
- Tooth brushing with a manual toothbrush leads to significantly lower plaque values compared to ten seconds of brushing with the automatic toothbrush.
- The manual toothbrush was superior to the automatic toothbrush, particularly in marginal and interdental areas.
- When the brushing time with the automatic toothbrush was extended to 30 seconds, there was no significant difference between the manual and automatic toothbrushes.
- The automatic toothbrush was, however, too short for 95% of participants and therefore did not fully clean the second molars. Additionally, the marginal gingival margin was not reached by the bristles of the automatic toothbrush in one third of participants.
In short, although automatic toothbrushes have encouraging potential, we still need to see further future developments before we can recommend them to our patients with a clear conscience. The current shortcomings still mainly revolve around customiszation for different jaw sizes and tooth positions, cleaning of the interdental spaces and selection of the optimal brushing time.
- Keller M, Keller G, Eller T, Sigwart L, Wiesmüller V, Steiner R, Offermanns V, Kapferer‐Seebacher I. Cleansing efficacy of an auto‐cleaning toothbrushing device with nylon bristles: a randomized‐controlled pilot study. Clinical Oral Investigations (2023) 27:603–611. Schnabl D, Wiesmuller V, Honlinger V, Wimmer S, Bruckmoser E, Kapferer-Seebacher I. Cleansing efficacy of an auto- cleaning electronic toothbrushing device: a randomized-controlled crossover pilot study. Clin Oral Investig (2021) 25:247–253.