There’s an app (and toothbrush) for that!

smartbrushBelieve it or not, tooth brushing has gone high-tech. And as holiday shopping season is upon us, the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

Even though dentists tell us that we should all be brushing twice a day for at least 2-3 minutes each time, the average person actually only brushes between 45-70 seconds per day, according to the Academy of General Dentistry. Bacteria left behind on your teeth can increase your risk for cavities, gingivitis and periodontitis, and even more serious health issues such as plaque buildup in the arteries. And yet, habits are hard to change, and let’s face it: brushing your teeth can be BORING. So how do you break the cycle of poor dental hygiene?

Enter the technology:

Your dentist may have told you that an electric toothbrush is a good investment in your oral health, as research shows that they can improve plaque removal. And since most electric toothbrushes have built-in timers to ensure you’re brushing for the full 2 minutes, they can be useful in building better brushing habits. But did you know that many electric toothbrushes are now also “smart toothbrushes”?

Smart toothbrushes encourage better oral hygiene habits by providing patients with accurate information on their brushing times and habits, and even providing professionals reports on how long their patients are brushing. The toothbrush interacts with smartphone apps to guide the user towards proper brushing. Some smart toothbrushes even offer interactive game apps that are designed to help children develop better brushing habits at an early age.

Different electric toothbrushes offer different types of benefits, so it pays to do your research. For example, the Oral-B Pro series of smart toothbrushes not only guide the user to brush for an approximate time per quadrant in the mouth, they also monitor whether too much pressure is applied to the brush, and include instructional videos about proper brushing technique. Brushing too hard can damage your gums and erode your tooth enamel, so the pressure sensor’s feedback can help you to learn how much pressure to use. So if your dentist has told you that you are brushing too aggressively, a toothbrush with pressure sensors may help you adjust your habits.

The Kolibree smart brush includes both a Coach app for adults and a game app for children, which allows the Kolibree toothbrush to interact with the game like a joystick. In addition to the apps included with the brush, they have also partnered with a game company to create a Rabbids Smart Brush app, modeled after the popular game Rabbids Invasion. By brushing in the right places for the right amount of time, players can run faster in the game, jump obstacles, and cross the finish line to win points and badges. Plus, users can compete against each other, turning toothbrushing into another opportunity for fun sibling rivalry.*

Philips Sonicare has also developed a kid-friendly smart toothbrush that will reward the child for proper brushing habits, and also allow parents to monitor the child’s brushing habits via the app. The child can adopt a “Sparkly” character, and help to brush it’s teeth using the app.

Finally, although studies show that power toothbrushes have been linked to greater reductions in plaque and gingivitis, compared to manual brushes, one important fact remains:

“How you brush is more important than what you brush with.”

If you brush twice a day for two minutes each time, and floss daily, an electric toothbrush may not be worth the investment… you already have great habits! If you or anyone in your family needs help building new or better brushing habits, however, a smart toothbrush may be the gift that keeps on giving. Thanks to technology, building new and better dental habits for your WHOLE family just got a little easier!

*Dentistry Today, Industry New, June 2016