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Soft Toothbrushes versus Foam Swabs for Oral Care: A Review of the Comparative Clinical Effectiveness, Cost-Effectiveness, and Guidelines

Last updated: September 7, 2017
Project Number: RC0916-000
Product Line: Rapid Response
Research Type: Devices and Systems
Report Type: Summary with Critical Appraisal
Result type: Report


  1. What is the comparative clinical effectiveness of soft toothbrushes versus foam swabs for oral care?
  2. What is the cost-effectiveness of soft toothbrushes versus foam swabs for oral care?
  3. What are the evidence-based guidelines on the use of soft toothbrushes for oral care?

Key Message

One moderate-quality randomized control trial (RCT), one low-quality RCT and one low-quality non-RCT provided mixed findings for the efficacy of soft toothbrushes compared to oral swabs for oral care in patients at hospitals or long-term care facilities.One moderate-quality guideline for the oral care of adult patients with head and neck cancer recommends the use of twice daily brushing with a soft toothbrush and only recommends the use of oral sponges if the use of a toothbrush is painful.