A small pilot study published in the Indian Journal of Dental Research has found that recording smart phone video ‘selfies’ of tooth-brushing can help people improve their tooth-brushing skills.
Tooth-brushing helps avert preventable oral diseases, such as tooth decay and periodontal disease, although its effectiveness depends on brushing technique.
In the study, participants had their brushing habits assessed and corrected until all were able to demonstrate proper technique. They then were required to film their brushing at home using their smart phones.
When researchers from the Case Western University School of Dental Medicine analysed the video footage, they saw an increase in both the accuracy and number of brush strokes, and an overall eight per cent improvement in tooth-brushing skill—although the length of time individuals brushed did not change.
While most people have the ability, motivation and desire to brush their teeth properly, they tend not to due to poor technique—and opportunities to improve in this regard are few.
“Often, tooth-brushing is learned and practised without proper supervision,” said Lance T. Vernon, co-author of the study. “Changing tooth-brushing behaviours—which are ingrained habits tied to muscle memory—can take a lot of time and guidance.
“Our study suggests that, in the future, recording these selfies can help shift some of this time investment in improving brushing to technology. Patients can then receive feedback from dental professions.”
The researchers envision a video-based monitoring app, which could record videos of patients brushing at home that are later reviewed by oral health professionals.
“The cost of an app could be minor, while potentially there could be major long-term benefits to a user’s oral health and quality of life,” said Vernon.