Dental Tribune America

Taking brushing selfies could help improve oral health

By Dental Tribune International
August 11, 2016

OHIO, USA/CHENNAI, India: Smartphone video selfies are a popular means of communication today and they are increasingly being used in the medical field to assess, monitor and determine the progression of disease. For the first time, the findings of a new study have suggested that recording video selfies while brushing could help patients improve their oral health care techniques, even within a short period.

In the study, four dental student interns recorded five video selfies each while brushing at home over a period of 14 days using smartphones mounted on stands.

At baseline, several surfaces within sextants were not being brushed—notably the lingual surfaces of maxillary and mandibular anterior teeth and the palatal aspect of the right maxillary posterior sextant. After the intervention, all four participants had developed toothbrushing strokes that covered all their tooth surfaces.

Overall, the researchers saw an increase in the accuracy of brushstrokes, an increase in number of strokes and an overall 8 percent improvement in toothbrushing skills.

“Often, toothbrushing is learned and practiced without proper supervision,” said Dr. Lance T. Vernon, a senior instructor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine and co-author of the study. “Changing toothbrushing behaviors—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,” Vernon added. “Patients can then receive feedback from dental professionals.”

The researchers concluded, however, that further investigation using a larger sample size is needed to thoroughly assess the effectiveness of this approach in order to improve toothbrushing skills and better understand the role of proactive interference (when learning a new behavior is hindered by knowledge and habits associated with an old behavior).

The study, titled “Using smartphone video ‘selfies’ to monitor change in toothbrushing behavior after a brief intervention: A pilot study,” was published in the May/June issue of the Indian Journal of Dental Research. It was conducted at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine in Ohio in collaboration with the Ragas Dental College and Hospital in Chennai.

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