Monday, July 15, 2024

Improve Oral Health With Smart Toothbrushes

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Globally, people are advised to brush teeth for over two minutes for a thorough cleaning. In Japan, however, at least 3 minutes of brushing is recommended. Oral hygiene is closely linked to the health of our entire body. Brushing and flossing are mundane but critical daily tasks of human life.

As the name suggests, a smart toothbrush is enabled with a motor that tells you the brush’s position, speed, gives feedback and tells you how to improve oral hygiene. At the heart of most smart toothbrushes is a sonic motor and sensors attached at the head of the brush, which vibrates to effectively and clean your teeth. Xiaomi claims its toothbrush produces 31,000 vibrations in a minute while Realme says its brush produces 34,000 vibrations.

Several years ago these companies started offering Bluetooth-enabled brushes which monitor brushing patterns and transfer this data for analysis by a smartphone app. Most smart toothbrushes will have a timer attached to it to remind you when you’ve reached the optimum brushing time.

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The apps linked to these smart toothbrushes also offer information to users while they brush relating to news and weather.

Comparison between electric / digital tooth brush and smart toothbrush

Features Electric / digital Toothbrush Smart toothbrush
Vibrations 2,500-7,000 per minute 20, 000 – 30, 000 per minute
App support No Yes
Bluetooth/ Wi-fi No Yes
Brush rotation Rotating Vibrating
Battery No Yes
Some brands Caresmith , Oral -B Xiaomi, Real me, Colgate, Oral – B

Smart toothbrush business models

So do these Bluetooth-enabled brushes change anything for the business models of these companies or are they just a value added feature for users? It’s probably too early to answer this with any certainty but digging a little deeper reveals some clues from popular electric toothbrush brands.

India is not far behind even in the toothbrushes sector. Major electronic oral care companies in India today are Caresmith India and AGARO Lifestyle. They offer electric toothbrushes along with replacement heads and are priced in the range of ₹ 1,000 to ₹1,500.

On the other – hand, battery toothbrushes are priced at ₹600/-. The main problem with battery operated toothbrushes is that it requires regular replacement of the head. But some battery toothbrushes do not offer the option to replace the head, thereby making the toothbrush to throw to the bin after the head wears out. As a result, consumers can get better value for money by purchasing an electric toothbrush compared with a battery toothbrush.

Even the cost of replacable tooth heads varies and depends upon manufacturers in India. For example, pack of 3 replacement heads for Caresmith Spark electric toothbrush costs around ₹ 1000/-. While Oral – B cross section replacement heads (pack of 4) for smart toothbrush costs ₹ 1,190/-

Broader application of IoT technologies to electronic toothbrush specifications can add extra functionality for users and thereby building direct relationships with customers via data capture by the apps.

However, adding new versions of electronics such as AI ,ML big data, IoT etc. can increase the cost of e toothbrushes to a large extent. Here is where dental insurance can help to attract rich people to use such advanced expensive e toothbrushes in developed countries like the USA. However such e-toothbrushes definitely fail to capture customers attention unless their price is slashed to a very large extent.

Smart toothbrushes should have sufficient accuracy and stability of posture recognition. Deep learning can be applied to a smart toothbrush and can support the monitoring of the Bass Brushing Technique. Deep neural network models such as Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) models can be effectively used for brushing gesture recognition.

Top five smart toothbrush making companies in India are :

  • Caresmith SPARK Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush.
  • Oral B Vitality 100 Black Criss Cross Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush.
  • AGARO COSMIC PLUS Sonic Electric Toothbrush For Adults.
  • Oral B Battery Powered Toothbrush.

Colgate Pro Clinical 250R Rechargeable Sonic Electric Toothbrush.

Figure 1 Working principle of smart toothbrush.
Figure 1 Working principle of smart toothbrush. ( Image credit : https://www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/21/4/1238/htm)

Smart toothbrushes like one from Grush company offers a Bluetooth toothbrush aimed at kids with a variety of downloadable games designed to encourage children to brush properly. The data captured by the games is then available to parents allowing them to check progress.

Figure2 Sample ( of 50 people )
Figure2 Sample ( of 50 people ) plaque distribution index chart after ultrasonic brushing. ( Credit : https://www.omicsonline.org/publication-images/oral-hygiene-health-plaque-ultrasonic-brushing-6-249-g011.png )

” Cloud White” another smart toothbrush from Grush company offers all the features of a top range toothbrush, along with smart features that record brushing . With motion-sensing “Tooth-to-Tooth” navigation technology, brushing habits are recorded and sent to the cloud for analysis. Grush Dental Cloud analyses brushing data with the added ability to send brushing data to dentists for analysis. Users receive reports and recommendations on which tooth surfaces have not been brushed properly and the system is constantly retargeting the brushing routine to ensure a perfect brushing session every time.

The still-to-be-released Prophix toothbrush has an HD camera which films the inside of your mouth as you brush.

Disadvantages

The biggest downside is that smart toothbrushes aren’t cheap. Further they require replacing heads which are currently very expensive. If the battery is overcharged, it will result in high risk of damage.

Challenges and scenario of Smart Toothbrushes in India

About 51% of Indians use a toothbrush and toothpaste to brush their teeth. Around 28% brush their teeth the recommended two times a day.Design of toothbrushes has remained relatively unchanged for millenia.

According to research published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, electric toothbrushes can easily overtake manual brushes. In this study, over 80% of the patients who switched to an electric toothbrush had better oral hygiene after making the switch.

Simply to say , smart toothbrushes are expected to take the major share in the toothbrushes market in India. With the focus on functionality, affordability and experience, it is forecast that electric toothbrushes in India will grow at a CAGR of 9.5% in terms of value sales over 2022-2027, which is higher than the CAGR of 5.8% for battery toothbrushes over the same period.

Due to rapid growth of e-commerce in India, many D2C brands in power toothbrushes in India are taking major hold. Further there is a strong need to carry out promotional activities via television and social media target a wider audience in the smart toothbrush sector.

Today a larger rural audience remains less aware about electronic toothbrushes. As a result, expansion to traditional retail outlets will be both a challenge and an opportunity for growth for brands offering electric toothbrushes in India.

Increased marketing activities and campaigns to showcase the benefits provided by electric toothbrushes would benefit further uptake.

The average living age in India will grow from 28.3 years to 34.9 years over the next two decades.This is mainly due to advancement and better medical facilities in India. Further, several pollution control measures like ‘zero carbon emission ‘ programs can significantly increase the average living period of Indians.

As a result, it will not be surprising to witness an increasing number of oral diseases in our country. This will encourage Indian consumers to maintain proper oral hygiene. With electric toothbrushes offering a solution to maintain complete oral hygiene by protecting the teeth, gums and mouth, certainly electronic toothbrushes can give a new turn to brushing habits of Indians. However it is a long way for electronic toothbrushes to reach the level of mobiles and TVs since manual toothbrushes are less expensive and need less skill to operate.

Can nanotechnology be a future trend?

Innovation trends have no boundaries even precision dentistry is concerned. Robotic micro swarm can one day brush, rinse and floss the teeth.Iron oxide and even hydrogen peroxide have got

both catalytic and magnetic activities. Using the magnetic properties researchers are able to direct their motion and configure them to form bristle-like structures that brush away plaque from teeth and floss. Catalytic properties of these nanoparticles produce antimicrobials that kill harmful oral bacteria while brushing.

An infographic explains the magnetic and catalytic properties of the iron oxide nanoparticles
Figure . An infographic explains the magnetic and catalytic properties of the iron oxide nanoparticles and their assembly into bristle and floss-like forms. (Image: Melissa Pappas/Penn Engineering)

Conclusion

Brushing teeth is one of the first and last things most people do every day. It’s also one of the daily tasks you do forgetting about the internet. Well, not any more. Smart toothbrushes, presently an expensive and fancy gadget, are set to become essential domestic product.

E-commerce has become increasingly popular as a business model for the Internet of Things in the consumer space.

A toothbrush example, as simple as it may sound, helps demonstrate that IOT technology, when viewed as a feature of a product. It is hardly a game changer for the product maker; opening the product to external innovation by developers can create a competitive advantage .For those who lack manual skill of tooth brushing , electronic brushes are a good option.

Most importantly, smart toothbrushes (and electric toothbrushes in general) tend to be more effective than manual toothbrushes and can legitimately improve the health of your teeth and gums.


Vinayak. Ramachandra. Adkoli. is an B. E. in Industrial Production and served as lecturer in three different polytechnics for 10 years. I am also a freelance writer and cartoonist.

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