A device with a handle and bristles at one end designed to remove soft deposits from the oral structures and to stimulate the gingival tissues. The head size is selected to meet the needs of the individual. The bristles are normally multitufted, round-ended, and made of nylon to reduce the risk of toothbrush abrasion. Natural bristles have a less predictable texture, and may be porous and therefore more likely to harbour bacteria. The handle of the brush may be modified to suit patients with limited dexterity. The toothbrush is normally used with a dentifrice to improve the effectiveness of the brush. End-tuft (single-tuft, unituft, interdental) brushes have a small tuft of bristles set at an angle to the handle to assist in accessing difficult-to-reach areas. An interdental brush has a small tuft of bristles with an angled head, designed to fit into the space between two teeth. Powered toothbrushes (automatic toothbrushes) use a battery or electrical power source and produce a vibratory or oscillating action in the brush head. Evidence suggests that a rotation oscillation action removes plaque and reduces gingival inflammation more effectively than manual toothbrushing and that oscillating/pulsating power toothbrushes are more effective at plaque removal and improvement of the gingival condition than high-frequency power toothbrushes.
Davies R. M. Manual versus powered toothbrushes: what is the evidence? Dent Update 2006;33(3):159–62.