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Study finds interdental brushes and rubber picks most effective devices

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In the first study of its kind, researchers in Italy compared the efficacy of different oral hygiene devices in reducing plaque and gingival inflammation in periodontitis patients. (Image: edwardolive/Shutterstock)
Dental Tribune International

By Dental Tribune International

Wed. 20 April 2022

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PISA, Italy: A newly published study from the University of Pisa has compared the efficacy of four different oral hygiene devices in reducing plaque and gingival inflammation in periodontitis patients. The study found that interdental brushes and rubber interdental picks were superior compared with toothbrushing alone and toothbrushing combined with the use of dental floss.

The study demonstrated that plaque levels and gingival inflammation can be reduced by using a toothbrush alone or together with interdental cleaners. However, compared with the use of a toothbrush alone or in combination with dental floss, further reduction of plaque and inflammation was observed when interdental brushes and rubber picks were used in addition to a toothbrush. Although this is in line with previous studies’ findings, the current study was the first to observe periodontitis patients only.

The research has important implications for dental patients with periodontitis. Approximately 30% of the global adult population aged over 50 years is affected by the disease, according to research cited by the study authors.

The findings corroborate current periodontal treatment recommendations and could have important implications for daily practice, said lead author of the study Dr Filippo Graziani, professor of periodontics at the Department of Surgical, Medical and Molecular Pathology and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Pisa. He explained: “Interdental cleaning is a crucial factor in the maintenance of periodontal health during and after treatment in patients affected by periodontitis. Our study shows that to achieve the highest standard of interdental cleaning, interdental brushes or rubber interdental picks are the most effective devices.”

Martijn Verhulst, medical liaison manager at international oral healthcare company Sunstar, which provided the rubber picks used in the study, added: “We very much welcome the specific focus on periodontitis patients in this study. So far, evidence of the efficacy of different interdental cleaning tools has been quite conflicting for this population, and for rubber interdental picks even absent, so these results will help clinicians by guiding their daily work.”

Verhulst continued: “The finding that rubber interdental picks and interdental brushes are most efficient at reducing plaque and gingival inflammation was in line with our own expectations. However, the findings are also significant in light of previous research and feedback we get from our consumers, showing that rubber interdental picks are usually considered to be easier to use compared to floss or even interdental brushes. It does remain important to respect dexterity and personal preferences of the patient.”

The study, titled “Interdental plaque reduction after the use of different devices in patients with periodontitis and interdental recession: A randomized clinical trial”, was published online on 11 January 2022 in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene, ahead of inclusion in an issue.

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