Removing Common Barriers to Oral Health With An Intelligent Toothbrushing System
By Shannon Pace Brinker, CDA
Toothbrushing—along with flossing—is an essential component of regular and proper oral hygiene. The toothbrush itself is the foundation for daily plaque removal, and various types of toothbrushes have been introduced over the past few decades to help improve oral hygiene habits.1 In fact, the number of manual and power toothbrushes, both of which can be effective for plaque removal, that have been introduced over the past 10 years has increased significantly.
The toothbrushes that are available today feature an assortment of brush head designs and bristle materials. End-rounded bristles have been considered safer and reduce damage to oral tissues, while nylon bristles are thought to be more effective in plaque removal due to their stiffness compared to natural bristles. To differentiate available options, researchers have attempted to characterize various commercial manual and power toothbrush heads according to bristle size, shape, diameter, number of tufts, number of bristles per tuft, and surface characteristics. In doing so, significant differences were found among toothbrush bristle diameter and bristle shape, but not between power and manual toothbrushes in terms of bristle diameter, bristle count, and tuft count. This suggests that although there are variations in toothbrush head designs, significant differences only exist in relation to bristle diameter and shape.
While both manual and power toothbrushes are effective, power-driven toothbrushes are designed to improve the efficacy of oral hygiene in terms of plaque removal, as well as resolution of periodontal-related issues (e.g., gingival bleeding and inflammation). Counter-rotational and oscillating-rotating power toothbrushes have been shown to be more beneficial in reducing the levels of gingival bleeding or inflammation based on the ability of the power toothbrush to reduce plaque.
Without question, powered toothbrushes have become significant to oral hygiene, and numerous clinical trials have compared the effectiveness of manual and powered toothbrushes for their effectiveness in improving oral health. The overall findings indicate that powered toothbrushes with an oscillating-rotating action are more effective than manual toothbrushes in reducing plaque and gingivitis, while other types of powered toothbrushes were less consistent in reducing plaque and gingivitis.
The Need to Improve Personal Brushing Efficacy
However, studies of personal oral hygiene habits have revealed a tendency for individuals to neglect brushing tooth and oral surfaces. They also show that individuals follow unsystematic brushing patterns and demonstrate frequent movements between areas. Additionally, individuals brush different areas of the mouth with different types of strokes (e.g., mostly horizontal and circular strokes). Brushing movements frequently alternate between areas of the mouth; although not random, these brushing patterns focus within a jaw and tend to move from right to left.
In general, people significantly tend to neglect brushing tooth surfaces. Interestingly, researchers concluded that understanding habitual oral hygiene habits and behavior would be essential for improving oral hygiene strategies and, overall, oral health.
However, what’s also interesting is that nearly 8 years earlier, an advanced oscillating-rotating toothbrush was introduced (i.e., Oral-B Triumph with SmartGuide; Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, OH, USA). This powered toothbrush incorporated a unique wireless remote display to promote good brushing technique (i.e., brushing force and thoroughness) and increase brushing time. Such an innovation in power toothbrush technology provided dental professionals and patients with additional home care tools to improve oral health by ensuring understanding of how to properly use the brush.
When evaluating the effectiveness of the innovative toothbrush, researchers found that those using the power brush with the wireless display showed statistically significantly more thorough brushing across their teeth and lingual/buccal surface.8 Those using the power brush alone did not show a significant difference. Also, those individuals using the power brush with the wireless display brushed with less force than people using the power brush alone after 30 days of home use. Researchers concluded that the power brush with the wireless display could be incorporated in patients’ home care routine to improve brushing technique, including brushing pressure and thoroughness.
A More Intelligent Approach to Toothbrushing
Common toothbrushing barriers to achieving a healthy mouth include incorrect brushing technique, brushing too fast, brushing too hard, and missing brushing zones. With standard manual toothbrushes, people scrub and don’t give proper attention to each individual tooth. Most people brush for less than the recommended 2 minutes, and they apply too much pressure, which can damage gingival tissues and lead to reduced cleaning efficacy. Additionally, it can be easy to miss hard-to-reach areas. All of these barriers can lead to gum disease progression (e.g., gingivitis and periodontitis).
To resolve these issues, a professionally-dispensed power oscillating-rotating toothbrush (Oral-B® Genius™; Procter & Gamble) with an intelligent, real-time feedback system was recently introduced. Featuring a small, round brush head that surrounds and cleans each tooth to remove more plaque, the Oral-B Genius was designed to improve brushing technique and ensure no brushing zone is missed by pairing with the Oral-B App 4.1 (available on the App Store™ or Google PlaySM). This App essentially provides understanding of toothbrushing practices and behavior that is essential for improving oral hygiene and oral health.
• Triple Pressure Control
Manual toothbrushes apply brushing force up to twice the recommended pressure. However, the Oral-B Genius features Triple Pressure Control Sensor Technology to ensure that patients apply the proper amount of pressure while brushing. This helps to protect gums from overaggressive brushing by visually indicating when too much pressure is applied, as well as automatically slowing down the brush head speed and stopping the pulsations. Up to 93% of aggressive brushers reduce their brushing force with the Oral-B Genius.
• Professional Timer
Manual toothbrush users brush less than a minute. With the Oral-B App, electric toothbrush users brush on average 2 minutes and 27 seconds. The Pro-timer helps to guide every brushing session to reach the dental professional-recommended 2 minutes of brushing, while the Focused Care features enables dental professionals to add time to specific problem areas.
• Position Detection Technology
Up to 80% of people spend insufficient time brushing at least one zone in their mouth. The groundbreaking Oral-B Genius Position Detection Technology uses cutting-edge motion sensor technology located in the brush, combined with video recognition using the smartphone’s camera and Oral-B App 4.1, to track areas being brushed to ensure proper brush position and that all zones in the mouth are brushed equally and evenly.
• Smart Ring
A Personalized Multicolor 360° Lighting System features 12 different colored LED lights, so patients can customize their brushes. Oscillating-Rotating-Pulsating Technology The Oral-B Genius incorporates proprietary technology that interacts with patients as they brush, cleaning tooth by tooth and reaching areas that are often missed. This helps to ensure a superior clean.
• Five Brushing Modes Pro-Clean Mode
Five brushing modes are available (i.e., Daily Clean, Sensitive, Whitening, Gum Care, and Pro-Clean), and the Oral-B Genius features built-in memory settings. For an intense, invigorating clean feeling, the Oral-B Genius Pro-Clean Mode provides 3,000 more movements per minute than the Daily Cleaning mode.
• Other Features
In-App entertainment, professional guidance, brushing challenges, and dental care journeys are among the other features incorporated into the Oral-B Genius and Oral-B App 4.1 to help maintain a patient’s attention, motivation, and commitment to improving their brushing habits. A stylish charging travel case includes a multi-voltage plug for easy traveling and charging the brush, smartphone, or small device with a single plug. A practical smartphone holder supports placement of the phone on a mirror for optimal use of the Position Detection Technology, and it is removable and re-attachable for flexible use. Additionally, the Oral-B Genius features Oral-B’s longest-lasting rechargeable lithium ion battery, which provides users with up to 12 days of brushing between charges.
Toothbrushing and the toothbrushes our patients use are the foundation for ongoing oral hygiene and long-term oral health. Oscillating-rotating power toothbrushes have been shown to be more beneficial in reducing plaque and promoting gingival health. However, the effectiveness of toothbrushing efforts depends upon proper technique as much as the type of toothbrush being used. Therefore, to ensure that patients brush for the correct amount of time, at the correct amount of force, and across all tooth surfaces, the new professionally-dispensed power oscillating-rotating Oral-B® Genius™ toothbrush can be recommended. With an intelligent, real-time feedback system, the Oral-B Genius can help us to help our patients improve their brushing technique, brush like we recommend, and achieve a healthier mouth.