Needleman IG, Hirsch NP, Leemans M, Moles DR, Wilson M, Ready DR, Ismail S, Ciric L, Shaw MJ, Smith M, Garner A, Wilson S. Randomized controlled trial of toothbrushing to reduce ventilator-associated pneumonia pathogens and dental plaque in a critical care unit. J Clin Periodontol 2011; 38: 246–252. 38: 246–252. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-051X.2010.01688.x.
Aim: To investigate the effect of a powered toothbrush on colonization of dental plaque by ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP)-associated organisms and dental plaque removal.
Materials and methods: Parallel-arm, single-centre, examiner- and analyst-masked randomized controlled trial. Forty-six adults were recruited within 48 h of admission. Test intervention: powered toothbrush, control intervention: sponge toothette, both used four times per day for 2 min. Groups received 20 ml, 0.2% chlorhexidine mouthwash at each time point.
Results: The results showed a low prevalence of respiratory pathogens throughout with no statistically significant differences between groups. A highly statistically significantly greater reduction in dental plaque was produced by the powered toothbrush compared with the control treatment; mean plaque index at day 5, powered toothbrush 0.75 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.53, 1.00], sponge toothette 1.35 (95% CI 0.95, 1.74), p=0.006. Total bacterial viable count was also highly statistically significantly lower in the test group at day 5; Log10 mean total bacterial counts: powered toothbrush 5.12 (95% CI 4.60, 5.63), sponge toothette 6.61 (95% CI 5.93, 7.28), p=0.002.
Conclusions: Powered toothbrushes are highly effective for plaque removal in intubated patients in a critical unit and should be tested for their potential to reduce VAP incidence and health complications. Trial registration: ISRCTN21526533.