Could LED Toothbrushes Be a Game-Changer in Home Oral Care?

The right home care routine can empower your patients to take control of their oral health. Could LED toothbrushes take your patients’ home care to the next level?

By Paige Anderson, CRDH

One of the most exciting things about working in dentistry is the constantly evolving tech. There’s always a new instrument on the horizon for improving diagnostics or changing how we perform procedures.

But what about home care? That’s one area where not much seems to change from one year to the next.

Could light-emitting diode (LED) toothbrushes be the next game-changer in brushing technology?

What We Know About Light and Oral Pathology

We know oxygen kills anaerobic bacteria. We know that mechanically breaking up biofilm is effective at decreasing bacterial load. So what can light do?

Light therapy has been used in clinical applications like Laser-Assisted New Attachment Procedure (LANAP) for many years. However, ongoing research has shown a lot of promise in many potential applications of both laser and LED devices for treating everything from periodontal disease to caries.

The problem is that clinical treatments only happen every few weeks or months, leaving lots of time between procedures for the patient’s bacterial load to return to baseline.

The solution? Light-emitting devices patients can use at home as an adjunct to regular clinical care.

What Can LED Toothbrushes Do That Manuals Can’t?

Manual toothbrushes break up plaque biofilm, effectively reducing bacteria in the mouth and preventing gum disease and caries. If they’re used correctly.

However, manual toothbrushes are deceptively technique sensitive.

Let’s face it, most patients could use a little help with their home care.

LED toothbrushes may help to decrease bacterial load by decreasing viability for many types of bacteria. Specifically, studies indicate that blue-light LEDs have an antibacterial effect on S. aureus, P. aeruginosa, and P. gingivalis, as well as effectively decreasing gingival inflammation and bleeding.

What They Don’t Do

LED toothbrushes don’t break up or remove plaque better than manual toothbrushes. So while the plaque may become less virulent, it’s still there unless the patient is already a great brusher. In this case, they probably don’t need an LED toothbrush to help them out.

Most current models combine sonic or mechanical action with LEDs, which may help both break up plaque and kill bacteria simultaneously.

Blue light has also been used in teeth whitening for many years. Several LED toothbrush brands claim that their product will gently whiten teeth with regular use.

However, the evidence for that claim is a bit weak. Used in whitening treatments, the blue light activates an agent like hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. It does little in and of itself to change the shade of the teeth.

So unless the user is brushing with a whitening agent, it’s unlikely that they’ll see notable changes in the brightness of their smile.

What Brands Are Out There?

Just like any “next best thing,” many brands are jumping on the LED bandwagon.

Let’s take a look at a few.


Developed by an independent inventor, Oralucent® was a novel approach to reversing gum disease.

Oralucent® combines red and blue LEDs to maximize the wound healing and antimicrobial effects of each wavelength. It also has five sonic speeds to break up and remove plaque mechanically.

A starter kit comes with the brush, charging base, and replacement brush heads, as well as a tube of light-activated whitening gel.

Oralucent® recommends adding the whitening gel to your usual toothpaste and brush as usual.

Overall, reviews from users seem positive, although the literature is somewhat difficult to find. You can check out the website at for more information.


Snow® claims its brush will whiten teeth. Like Oralucent®, the company offers a whitening toothpaste as well as several other products like whitening strips and kits with LED mouthpieces to wear during treatment.

Because Snow® focuses on whitening and cosmetics rather than gum health, there is very little information on its website about any trials to prove the brush’s efficacy for killing bacteria or reducing inflammation. (Users can purchase a face-washing attachment for the brush, for example.)

The Snow® brush combines LEDs with sonic vibration.

Reviews seem favorable overall, although some reviewers were less enthusiastic. You can check out the website at for more.


PerioSciences® is a startup from Dallas, TX, that appeared on the scene in 2010. Its main focus is creating products to improve oral health with a range of products to address concerns such as gum health and breath.

Like Oralucent®, the PerioSciences® brush combines red and blue LEDs. The brush uses both light and sonic action to break down and remove plaque.

While reviews are positive, there are a few independent resources with information about the brand. You can check out the website at for more information.

Future of Home Care?

Empowering patients to do more for their oral health from home will keep them actively engaged.

As an adjunct to other forms of therapy, LED toothbrushes may give you one more tool to offer truly personalized care to each patient. Just as no one treatment plan is perfect for everyone, home care recommendations should likewise be tailored to each patient’s needs.

These toothbrushes cost about as much as other sonic or mechanical toothbrushes, although their efficacy isn’t as well-proven.

Patients may be better served with a classic like Sonicare®. However, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that Phillips® already has their engineers working on a way to incorporate LEDs into their brushes.

Yet some patients have sensitive teeth or a sensory processing disorder, and they can’t tolerate an electric toothbrush.  

If the lights can be activated without vibration or motion features, LED toothbrushes may make a great alternative for these patients by augmenting their home care regimen without overwhelming them.

Bottom Line

At this point, studies on LED toothbrushes are limited, with small sample sizes. Initial results are that LEDs are effective in decreasing the viability of oral bacteria, but there is some uncertainty about benefits.

It’s worth keeping an eye on and may be a good alternative to recommend if patients have sensory conditions that make standard toothbrushes difficult to tolerate.


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Author: Paige Anderson is a certified registered dental hygienist with eight years of clinical experience and an English degree. She blends her two areas of expertise to create resources for dental providers so they can change lives by giving their patients the highest possible standard of care.

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