Electric toothbrushes may be better at removing plaque and preventing gum disease than manual brushes, according to a study.
Electric brushes reduced plaque levels
British researchers reviewed 29 dental trials involving 1,786 people.
They found that those who used electric brushes had lower levels of plaque and less gum disease.
But writing in the Journal of Dentistry, they said more research was needed before they could say which brand was best.
Sales of electric toothbrushes have rocketed in recent years. However, there has been little evidence on how effective they are.
Researchers from the Edinburgh Dental Institute and three British universities analysed all of the available research in this area.
They found that people who used an electric toothbrush for one month reduced their plaque levels by 11% compared with those who used manual brushes.
They also reduced their chances of developing gum disease by 6%. After three months, that figure increased to 17%.
"Brushes with a rotation oscillation action removed more plaque and reduced gingivitis more effectively than manual brushes in both the short and long-term," the researchers wrote.
They said there was not enough evidence to indicate which brand of electric toothbrush was best.
"As no trial compared durability, reliability or cost of using manual versus powered brushes, it is not possible to make a clear recommendation on toothbrush superiority," they said.
A spokeswoman for the British Dental Association (BDA) said: "The way you use your toothbrush is just as important as the one you choose.
"The BDA recommends you use a brush with a small head as it's easier to move around the mouth and to get into the gaps where food debris and plaque can lurk.
"Brushing in a circular motion is the best way to brush, which is why the electric brushes with an oscillating head have come out best in the study."