Listen. Is that the sound of clean?

 

Mobile apps can motivate better oral hygiene habits, as demonstrated by the award-winning Brush DJ @BrushDJ, (free toothbrush timer app developed by a UK dentist to make brushing less boring) and the popular Disney Magic Timer App by Oral-B (app featuring 23 Disney, Marvel and Star Wars characters that track progress for kids).

Might the toothbrush of the future inspire better tooth cleaning based on the sound of scrubbing (bristles)?

According to a report in sciencedaily.com, researchers in Japan have discovered that how effectively we clean our teeth and how satisfied we are with the brushing job we do depends a lot on the sound of the bristles scrubbing against the enamel:

 “In trials with volunteer teeth cleaners, the researchers used a tiny microphone in a modified toothbrush to ‘sample’ the sound being made in the mouth during brushing and to modulate it and then feed that sound back to the volunteer. The study, which is published in the International Journal of Arts and Technology, explains how modulating the brush sound affects brushing effi cacy and satisfaction. The authors found that if they manipulated the pitch, or frequency and loudness, of the brushing sound, they could alter the volunteers’ perception of comfort and accomplishment. They also found that if they gradually increased the frequency as teeth cleaning progressed, the volunteers felt like the process was more comfortable and that their teeth were cleaner at the end of the process.”

Are headphones the answer? Probably not. The report describes a prototype system in which the tooth brusher wears headphones … impractical in the day-to-day.

Bone conduction speaker systems (think: hearing aid technology) might be incorporated into the smart toothbrush so that the amplified feedback loop is created in the mouth.

The sound of scrubbing. Could a Super Bowl commercial incorporating  Simon and Garfunkel be on the horizon?

Monday fun fact: Bone conduction explains why a person’s voice sounds different to him/her when it is recorded and played back. Because the skull conducts lower frequencies better than air, people perceive their own voices to be lower and fuller than others do, and a recording of frequently sounds higher.

 

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