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Medically reviewed
Published: February 10, 2024

Mouthpiece toothbrushes: think twice before you buy

Author: Jon Love (204 Comments)
Medical reviewer: Dr Gemma Wheeler, BDS
Mouthpiece toothbrushes: think twice before you buy 1
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We strongly advise that you DO NOT buy a mouthpiece/automatic toothbrush.*

Our testing shows that with limited exceptions they DO NOT clean the teeth very well.

The health of your teeth and gums is AT RISK if you use these products in place of a regular toothbrush.

Our findings are supported by at least 2 clinical studies, both of which do not advise using such products. (link to clinical data section).

SymplBrush is the best product to date.  It achieves surprising results.  But, It is very technique sensitive and expensive.  It is by no means a must buy product.

Unless you have seen reliable evidence that they work as claimed, you should stick to a regular manual or electric toothbrush.

An evolving marketplace

This style of toothbrush is still relatively new, and as the months go by new products are being created.

As a consequence, the marketplace is forever changing as is the quality, price, and efficacy of these devices.

Mouthpiece toothbrushes: think twice before you buy 5 Mouthpiece toothbrushes: think twice before you buy 6 Mouthpiece toothbrushes: think twice before you buy 7 Mouthpiece toothbrushes: think twice before you buy 8

Small improvements in quality and cleaning results have been seen since the very first items of this type were launched.

SymplBrush is the best performing product to date. The cleaning results are impressive, if used correctly.  You need to master the technique to achieve good results.  Even then it still falls short of the standard required to replace a regular toothbrush.

Unfortunately, not all manufacturers and sellers are focused on how well the product works.

We have seen an alarming increase in the number capitalising on the unique design and lack of testing, to sell poor quality products to unsuspecting members of the public.

Many lack the evidence to support the pre-sale claims they make.

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Poor cleaning results: the evidence from our testing

To demonstrate the poor cleaning results that these products currently offer, take a look at the photos below.

In the first image you will see a photo of my teeth taken before and after using a mouthpiece toothbrush.

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The purple stuff on the teeth is plaque.  Normally it is colorless, but we used a plaque disclosing solution to show where it exists on the teeth.

Plaque is the very substance that should be removed from the teeth when you brush them.

If it is not removed, in time, you can end up with unhealthy teeth and gums.

This image is from a real-life test of a mouthpiece toothbrush. You can see how even after use there is a lot of plaque left on the teeth.

SymplBrush is the automatic toothbrush to provide the best results to date, as shown in the image below.

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But, whilst pretty impressive, it is still not quite good enough.

SymplBrush comes fairly close to working as well as it should.  But, the particular technique required takes time to perfect.  Time and patience many won't want to invest. 

We have yet to test a mouthpiece toothbrush that could replace a regular toothbrush.

The majority of our tests have resulted in before and after images similar to the first one shown, with lots of plaque left on the teeth.

Used correctly, a manual or electric toothbrush removes all this plaque.

The recommendation is, and continues to be, brush for 2 minutes twice a day and floss at least once. Although statistics show that the average American brushes for just 45 to 70 seconds per day.

The following images show before and after images of plaque removal based on different toothbrushes and cleaning times.

Clinical trials

The ultimate test for any product is how it fares under clinical testing and trials.

In these circumstances dental professionals take a detailed look at such products and test them using standardised procedures to be able to come to informed conclusions on the product and cleaning results.

DDespite being on the market for a few years, it was not until June 2020 that the results of the first two clinical trials were revealed. 

Both were relatively small studies.  The University of Florence had 22 participants in theirs and the findings were first published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

It looked at the efficacy (how well it cleans) of U shaped automatic electric toothbrush (UAET), in comparison to a manual and electric toothbrush and to not brushing at all.

Whilst they only tested one U shaped toothbrush as part of the study, it was the most popular and best selling product to date, V-White.

The results were pretty damning. The key findings and conclusions were:

  • The UAET that was tested in this study proved to be not effective in removing dental plaque.
  • The UAET was not significantly different from no brushing.
  • Plaque removal with the UAET was significantly lower than with a powered toothbrush and a habitual toothbrushing.
  • The use of this U shaped toothbrush cannot be recommended for regular oral hygiene at home.

To add additional context, the V-White brush was actually used for a full 2 minutes during this study, by each participant, rather than the 45 seconds of its longest cleaning mode.

Jon summarises the findings in this video:

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The other study by Schnabl et al has 20 participants and used a different U shaped toothbrush, Amabrush.

They concluded:

  • The cleansing efficacy of the auto-cleaning device was clearly inferior to that of manual toothbrushing.
  • The alignment and density of the auto-cleaning device’s bristle rows need to be improved, and assorted sizes would be necessary to cover different jaw shapes.
  • To date, it is unable to provide sufficient plaque reduction due to an inappropriate bristle alignment and poor fit with diverse dental arches.

The results of these studies reconfirm our own findings, for the vast majority of mouthpiece toothbrushes.

One of the newest options SymplBrush has shown surprisingly good cleaning results.

They have conducted their own research in conjunction with The Forsyth Institute.  Researchers found that is was 2x more effective at reducing gingivitis than a manual toothbrush and there is 70% greater reduction in harmful inflammatory markers than a manual toothbrush.

Positive results, but this is by no means conclusive.  More independent research is needed.  They are the first brand that we are aware of to actively invest in such research.

This remains the only clinical testing we know of to date.

What our in-house dentist says

We asked our in-house dental advisor Dr. Chhaya Chauhan what her thoughts are on mouthpiece toothbrushes, here's what she had to say:

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Worse than your everyday electric toothbrush
Using a mouthpiece may seem like a good idea as it covers all of the teeth at the same time. However, the quality of the brush it gives is much worse than your everyday electric toothbrush. This is because it doesn't reach all the surfaces of the tooth especially in areas like the gum margins where you can get gum disease.
Dr Chhaya Chauhan, BDS (GDC Number: 83940)

Social media adverts: beware

We have seen a large number of adverts on social media channels such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter that heavily promote this type of toothbrush.

The images and promotional videos suggest that they work.  THEY DON’T.

There will often be lots of 4 and 5* reviews, praising the product.  Don’t believe what you read.

It is very concerning what lengths some manufacturers/suppliers will go to, to try to convince us that these are effective, must have products.

If they were that good, why is it leading dental brands like Oral-B, Sonicare, Colgate, Waterpik and more are not selling these products?

Here are some of the claims we believe to be false:

  • German dentist Dr Max Spicer helped design this type of product - We cannot trace this dentist.
  • Voted product of the year - No indication of who voted it the product of the year.
  • You’ll have perfectly clean teeth - Our tests suggest otherwise.