Study Shows Good, Bad and Ugly on Oral Hygiene

A recent study explored effective methods of dental care, separating fact from fiction.

Research conducted by a team at the University at Buffalo examined which oral hygiene tools were actually effective in preventing gum disease. Conflicting medical information has made it difficult to discern the importance of items such as flossing and probiotics in preventing gingivitis and periodontitis. The study findings, published in the Journal of the International Academy of Periodontology, investigated oral hygiene devices and their effectiveness.

Various researchers have long suspected a link between healthy teeth and gums and a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. “We see a great deal of overlap between those with gum disease and those who have a history of cardiac disease, heart attack or stroke,” said Christine L. Jellis, MD, PhD, a cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic. “We know that people who brush and floss regularly have better overall health, along with less gum disease and periodontal inflammation.”

Recent findings indicated that only a handful of do-it-yourself interventions provide protection against gingivitis and periodontitis beyond routine tooth brushing with an ordinary toothbrush. The effectiveness of some types of oral hygiene intervention is supported by insufficient evidence, according to principal investigator Frank Scannapieco, DMD, PhD, the chair and professor of oral biology in the UB School of Dental Medicine.

“Patients can be confident that the oral care tools and practices supported by research, as described in the paper, will prevent the initiation and progression of periodontal disease, if they are performed regularly and properly,” Scannapieco said. He suggested that the study can help people discover the most effective methods for preventing gum disease, which affects nearly 50% of American adults aged 30 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

First author of the study, Eva Volman, DDS, a resident dentist at the University of Rochester’s Eastman Institute for Oral Health, said, “It is my hope that this piece consolidates the relevant evidence in a way that is comprehensive, readable and uniquely helpful to all oral health professionals as well as patients.”

Scannapieco said that tooth brushing is the “cornerstone of daily oral hygiene” and remains a reliable way to control dental plaque. The study shows that interdental brushes and water picks performed better than other interdental oral hygiene devices at reducing gingivitis. He suggested using both in combination with daily tooth brushing to prevent gum disease. Examination of numerous mouth rinses found that those based on CHX, CPC and essential oils were proven to be effective at significantly reducing plaque and gingivitis.

Although triclosan toothpastes and mouth rinses significantly reduced plaque and gingivitis, the compound has been linked to the development of several types of cancers and reproductive defects. Triclosan has been removed from most toothpastes in the United States.

Researchers found that electric-powered toothbrushes are no more effective at reducing plaque and gingivitis than a regular toothbrush. And Scannapieco said although little evidence has been published to support the use of dental floss, don’t eliminate routine flossing because it is beneficial. “While there are few studies available that specifically examined toothbrushes or floss alone, both are still essential. Floss is especially useful to remove interdental plaque for people who have tight space between their teeth. Floss also likely reduces the risk for cavities that form between the teeth,” he said.

Researchers found scant evidence of gingivitis reduction in mouthwashes based on green tea, anti-inflammatory agents, hydrogen peroxide, sodium benzoate, or tea tree oil. Additionally, they found little evidence that dietary supplements such as probiotics improve gum health or that scaling (removing plaque with a scraper) prevents gum disease.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *