Cochrane Revisited

Aug. 26, 2005
Evidence-based review of toothbrushes coincides with the Oral-B launch of two products.

By Patti DiGangi, RDH, BS

In October 2003, Oral-B hosted a two-day conference with a very special group comprised of many luminaries from the speaking world and identified as the "Evidence-Based Decision Making Guest Lecture Board." Health care in the 21st Century relies not only on individual medical skills, but also on the best information on the effectiveness of each intervention that's accessible to practitioners, patients, and policy makers. This approach is known as "evidence-based medicine" or evidence-based decision making (EBDM).

One issue presented was the idea of systematic reviews as a methodology for reviewing studies where evidence has been systematically searched for, studied, assessed, and summarized according to predetermined criteria. Several groups perform systematic reviews, including the American Academy of Periodontology ( and the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality ( Another such group is the Cochrane Collaboration (

In 2003, the EBDM Lecture Board learned of Cochrane's systematic review comparing manual to power tooth brushes. Cochrane updates systematic reviews every two years. Cochrane 2005 conclusions concurred with the 2003 findings that "the review of trials found that only rotation oscillation is better than manual toothbrushes at removing plaque and reducing gum inflammation, and is no more likely to cause injury to gums ... No other powered designs were as consistently superior to manual toothbrushes."

Oral-B invited the researchers from Cochrane to attend the 2005 EBDM meeting, but they declined. Stating that while happy to share their results they did not wish to appear to compromise the organization's policy of independence and impartiality. Their aim as an independent international organization is to help people make well-informed decisions about health care.

Oral-B introduced two new products at the American Dental Hygienists' Association's annual session in June. The first is an exciting product innovation that redefines "manual" brushing called the Pulsar. It cleans better than the leading manual toothbrush and leading battery toothbrushes.

The Pulsar has evolutionary MicroPulse™ bristles meaning the bristles pivot to penetrate between teeth. The Pulsar's pulsing delivers a pleasing and therapeutic experience that encourages users to brush longer.

The second product is the Oral-B Triumph, the world's smartest toothbrush. Smart technology optimizes brushing results due to the microchips in the brush head and a handle that can "talk." During use, the professional timer shows progress of brushing time elapsed. It also tells you to "change your brush" refill after 180 uses. There are so many innovations; dental professionals will just "have to" talk to their Oral-B account manager about a lunch and learn to hear all about it.

Patti DiGangi, RDH, BS, is a speaker, author, and practicing dental hygiene clinician offering CE courses to national audiences through her company Professional Direction Conferences on eagle eye dental hygiene assessments, minimal intervention, high tech diagnostics and her favorite hobby horse, early oral cancer detection. She can be reached at [email protected] or (630) 292-1473.