Children's dental health significantly improved using electric toothbrushes

15 November 2023

It may be time to go electric when it comes to kids brushing their teeth, according to new research by the Hebrew University-Hadassah Faculty of Dental Medicine.

According to a new randomised, controlled trial published in the International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry, oscillating-rotating (O-R) electric toothbrushes were significantly more effective than manual toothbrushes in reducing plaque and gingivitis in young children (ages three to 10).

Dental cavities and gingivitis tend to be widespread problems for young children, affecting up to 74 per cent of those aged nine months to six years. The likelihood of developing a first cavity increases with age, with more than 50 per cent of five-year-old children reporting cavities. Studies also show the prevalence of gingivitis in children to be as high as 91 per cent.

Avi Zini, a professor and dean of Hebrew University-Hadassah Faculty of Dental Medicine, said, “Young children love to use electric toothbrushes, yet most studies have only focused on whether electric or manual toothbrushes are better for reducing the dental plaque that causes cavities and gingivitis in adults. As long as children use their electric toothbrushes according to manufacturer’s instructions, the results should be very beneficial for their oral health."

In the study, researchers followed two groups for four weeks: three- to six-year-old children whose parents brushed their primary teeth, and seven- to 10-year-old children who brushed their own primary and permanent teeth. Each group used either an Oral-B Kids O-R electric toothbrush or a Paro Junior manual toothbrush.

While brushing with either toothbrush reduced plaque and gingivitis, children had significantly better results with the electric toothbrushes.

After the four-week trial:

  • More than half the children ages three to six (55.7 per cent) experienced greater whole-mouth plaque reduction and 34.3 per cent greater back of the mouth plaque reduction.
  • The vast majority of children ages seven to 10 (94.5 per cent) had greater whole-mouth plaque reduction and 108.4 per cent greater back of the mouth plaque reduction.
  • Whole mouth gingivitis among children ages seven to 10 was reduced by 14 per cent, and back of the mouth gingivitis reduction was 18.8 per cent.