Playbrush Makes Good Brushing Fun

Health & Hygiene
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Playbrush addresses problem of children not brushing teeth long enough

Nearly three in five British parents with children aged three to 12 say their children brush their teeth for one minute 30 seconds or less – below the minimum two minutes recommended by dentists each time they brush, according to a YouGov survey of 1,000 parents conducted on behalf of Playbrush, makers of a new interactive smart toothbrush.

The survey found 58% of parents with children between the ages of three and 12 said their children did not brush their teeth for the two-minute minimum recommended by the British Dental Association for each brushing session.

A total of 40% of those asked said their children did not brush for longer than a minute, and 12% of parents said their children brushed for 30 seconds or less.
The survey was timed to coincide with the launch of the first electric Playbrush – the Playbrush Smart Sonic – at the IFA Berlin 2018 trade fair on Friday 31st August. It provided new insights into parental attitudes on children’s tooth brushing habits on the day the NHS published its dental statistics for England in 2017/18.

Getting children to brush their teeth is a source of stress for many families, with 46% of parents agreeing that they have worried about their child’s teeth as a result of trying to get them to brush. 24% of parents asked had lost their temper while attempting to get their children to brush, and 18% have been upset. 71% of those surveyed felt that technology could be used to achieve better oral health among children alongside traditional tooth brushing methods.

While 47% of parents asked said their children thought brushing was “important”, 40% said their children considered brushing “boring”. The survey also asked about children’s efforts to avoid brushing, with 72% of parents saying their children had on at least one occasion tried different tactics.

Methods employed to avoid brushing included crying (17%) or throwing tantrums (21%), saying they had brushed when they hadn’t (50%), tried to bargain (21%) hidden themselves (13%) or hidden items for brushing such as the toothbrush or toothpaste (5%). Only 24% said their child had never done anything to avoid brushing their teeth.

A Good Daily Oral Hygiene Habit

The Smart Sonic edition marks the first time the Playbrush can be used with an electric toothbrush and represents a further step towards getting children to become enthusiastic brushers. The Playbrush connects to the toothbrush and transforms the brush into a game controller, motivating children to brush regularly, longer, and with greater accuracy, and is claimed to be already achieving significant improvements in brushing times and effectiveness among existing users.

The Playbrush app allows children to track progress on the games, and parents to monitor their child’s tooth brushing habits and dental health.

Paul Varga, CEO of Playbrush, explained: “We commissioned this survey because the high rate of oral decay among children and adults is a serious concern for dental professionals in the UK, and we wanted to find out more about why so many kids are not brushing properly.

“The results confirmed what we suspected – that tooth brushing is often a stressful time for both kids and parents, and the fact so many are not brushing for the minimum time recommended by the professionals can have serious consequences in later life.

“I found this to be the case in my own personal experience, and this gave me the idea for Playbrush. My own godson absolutely hated brushing his teeth. His mother tried to encourage him with brushing YouTube videos, but as we expected, he would get distracted and simply forget to move his toothbrush around his mouth.

“And we thought, how can we encourage him to move his toothbrush? And that’s where the idea of connecting toothbrushes with mobile games came about – combining fun and dental health.”

Leading dentist Katrina Clarke said: “As a general dental practitioner for 40-years, I understand the importance of establishing a good, daily oral hygiene habit from an early age. PlayBrush uses the best of modern, interactive technology to help motivate and educate children to achieve this. With the introduction of the new 'PlayBrush Smart Sonic', whether your child likes a manual or electric toothbrush, I recommend PlayBrush to turn the daily tooth brushing chore into a fun experience.”

Paul Ashley, Head of Paediatric Dentistry at the Eastman Dental Hospital, says of Playbrush: "It is important that children learn the right brushing technique early. Playbrush is a great way to encourage teeth to be cleaned regularly, at the right speed and area of the mouth”.

Both the Playbrush Smart and Smart Sonic are now backed by consumer goods giant Unilever in the UK with the name Signal Playbrush – replicating co-branding success seen in Germany, France and Austria under the Signal and Mentadent tooth brushing brands. They also received nationwide coverage in the UK from their appearance on the Dragons’ Den, turning down offers from four of the five dragons.