Can a Mobile App Help with Dental Hygiene?

By Dr. Perry Francis, DDS

While my own children did not have video games or other electronics when they were growing up, over  the last few years we have become app-accepting (and even seeking) for so many things — from banking to travel and everything in between.

Our most recent find is an app called Brush Up, which gives toothbrushing tips and encourages children to brush for the recommend two minutes. It also allows parents to create individual profiles for each child. While the reviews are encouraging, the company’s principals also recently completed a study on a small population of children, and they concluded:

  1. There was an improvement in quality of brushing in children who used the app for seven days. The quality weaned after they stopped using the app.
  2. Children who used the app for 14 days or more saw even more improvement, compared to children who used the app for seven days.

Generally, they found that when the app was used, more areas of the mouth were brushed and there was improvement in the amount of time spent brushing. The longer the child used the app, the better the quality of brushing over time. The drawback was that when app use stopped, there was a downward slide in the quality of brushing.

The American Dental Association agrees that apps can make brushing fun, recommending that parents devise different strategies to keep the process from becoming too routine. “Don’t just set a timer and supervise – make brushing twice a day for two minutes an event,” they advise in this blog post. “Crank up your child’s favorite song and have a two-minute dance party. Videos or brushing apps may also make that time fly by.” 

While apps are useful in helping children become more interested in their own oral hygiene, it is important that parents monitor their children’s dental habits, while also doing regular hygiene checks.  

If you’d like to schedule a consultation, please call us at (775) 331-9477. And in the meantime, take a few minutes to research some fun apps or songs that will make brushing fun for your family. The habits they develop now can last a lifetime!