Inside Dental Assisting
Toothbrush Monitors Home Hygiene Care through Smartphone App
The Beam Brush (Beam Technologies, www.beamtoothbrush.com) is the world’s first smart toothbrush: a manual brush that monitors oral hygiene habits and reports them to a smartphone app (Figure 1). Beam contains embedded sensors that upload brushing length and frequency data to an easy-to-read interface. Users also have the option to send their data to their dentist ahead of appointments so that home oral hygiene characteristics can be considered in treatment planning (Figure 2).
The Age of Digital Health
Healthcare is in the early stages of a major transformation, known as “digital health” or “quantified self.” Consumers are becoming increasingly interested in using the devices in their pocket to improve their health. Health and wellness apps have been flooding iTunes and the Android Market for the past two years, and the latest trend is to track daily health-related activities via external gadgets like Jawbone’s UP bracelet, the Zeo Sleep Manager, or Nike+ FuelBand.
Perhaps not surprisingly, an oral care–focused gadget has been missing from the conversation, until Beam Technologies announced their toothbrush plus app in January 2012. The Beam Brush is a response to the prevalence of oral diseases, even in oral health–conscious societies like the US, where millions of Americans are living with dental caries, periodontal disease, and oral cancer. A growing body of evidence has linked oral health to systemic health, yet oral care compliance is still an issue. Today, the average person brushes his or her teeth for only 46 seconds, but is 50% more likely to brush for a full 2 minutes by using just a simple timer.
Enter the Beam Brush and its interactive app that displays a 2-minute timer with the ability to play any song on the phone through the app. In addition, it issues alerts when it’s time to replace the brush head and can even order it automatically. Multiple brushes can be managed from a single app, so the whole family can easily compare statistics and interact (Figure 3). A patient education section includes a plethora of professional dental content, and the Beam Goals feature allows all users to participate in achieving brushing milestones that result in real-world incentives, such as coupons and discounts on a variety of hygiene products. Dental practices along with health and wellness businesses are involved in advertising products and services in prime locations on the app, as well as sponsoring Beam Goals for special promotions.
The key to the Beam Brush’s success is active involvement from the dental team. Often, assistants and hygienists are the experts—engaging patients in the clinical environment about their home oral care habits. Now for the first time, a technology exists to help bring this conversation to life, allowing oral healthcare practitioners to send patients home with a new tool to help them better understand their oral hygiene behavior—especially if the professional is able to receive updates to ensure home care is on par with prescribed care.
Representing a new paradigm in dental technology, the Beam Brush will be available to the public in late 2012, although dental practices can contact the company to become a priority vendor ahead of the launch.
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The preceding material was provided by the manufacturer. The statements and opinions contained therein are solely those of the manufacturer and not of the editors, publisher, or the Editorial Board of Inside Dental Assisting.