The effective cleaning of interdental spaces using toothbrushes is a challenge. The aim of the present in vitro study was to evaluate on the one hand the interdental cleaning efficiency and on the other hand the gingival injury potential of an electric single-headed sonic toothbrush (Waterpik) and two single-tufted manual toothbrushes (Curaprox 1009; Lactona Interdental Brush). Brushes were evaluated using a brushing device. Test dental casts (maxillary sextants) consisting of black teeth coated with white paint were brushed using standardized horizontal movements. Thereafter, black (i.e. cleaned) areas were measured planimetrically. The soft tissue injury potential was evaluated using front segments of porcine mandibles. In the same brushing device, test brushes were moved over the gingiva. Before and after each treatment, the porcine mucosa was stained with a plaque disclosing agent to visualize injured areas, which could then be measured planimetrically as well. These evaluations were each made after 15, 30, 60, and 120 seconds of brushing. The statistical analysis was performed using non-parametric Mann-Whitney tests, and the level of significance was set at 5%. The best cleaning performance of 46% across all interdental spaces assessed was found with the electric sonic toothbrush (Waterpik), while the performances of the manual brushes from Lactona and Curaprox were 14.8% and 5%, respectively. At each point of evaluation, the gingiva was injured most markedly by the powered sonic toothbrush (Waterpik), followed by the manual Curaprox brush. The smallest damage of the porcine gingiva was produced by the manual Lactona brush. When comparing the manual toothbrushes, the Lactona product revealed a better cleaning performance combined with a smaller injury potential than the Curaprox brush. Thus, the prophylactic goal to achieve high degrees of cleaning while producing minimal damage is important and should have priority when evaluating and selecting toothbrushes.

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