Reporter 458, 6 November 2000

Leeds dentists give electric brushing ring of confidence

Dentists trained in Leeds are more likely than most in the profession to be enthusiasts for electric toothbrushes, a study has found. Lecturers here advise that powered brushes are at least as good as the manual kind.

Fifth-year Dental Institute student Ashvin Champaneri questioned third and fourth-year students at four leading dental schools – Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and the combined school of central London – to find out how many regularly used electric toothbrushes and whether they would recommend them to their patients.

Road test: Ashvin Champaneri, centre, compares rival designs with Dentistry lecturers Val Clerehugh, left, and Aradhna Tagnait

A questionnaire he posted on the internet drew more than 260 replies. Almost 65 per cent of the sample had used an electric toothbrush before, but only 38 per cent used one regularly. In other words, of those who had ever tried power brushing, six out of ten were converted.

Dentistry students in Leeds were twice as likely to use electric toothbrushes as their opposite numbers in Manchester: 43 per cent of the Leeds sample were regular users, against 20 per cent in Manchester.

His project supervisor, Aradhna Tugnait, commented: "The electric brush does have special advantages for some groups – not just those who like gadgets, but people with physical disabilities or children who will get more enjoyment from regular brushing. Their small brushing heads help access awkward areas and some designs have built-in timers and other features which make them a valuable tool."

Two thirds of the students said they would recommend the device to patients. Just over half of the Mancunian sample agreed, compared to eight out of ten in Leeds.

"The electric toothbrush is now very much part of an everyday oral hygiene kit," said Mr Champaneri. "It is no longer a tool used by the well-off – demonstrated by nearly half of the dental students using one."

Of those who used electric brushes regularly, 80 per cent would advise at least some patients to follow suit.

Dr Val Clerehugh, senior lecturer in restorative dentistry and the Institute’s deputy director of research, said: "On the basis of the published evidence, electric toothbrushes do have a clear place in dental care. They’re at least as good as manual brushes and the professional consensus is that they are very effective if used correctly."

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