Getting Your Kids to Brush Their Teeth Better – There’s an App for That!

Kids and brushing teeth – they go together like Peanut Butter and Pickles.

With apologies to anyone that has taste buds bizarre enough to think the above combo DOES go well together, the truth is that for the vast majority of parents, keeping your children inspired and dedicated enough to develop solid tooth brushing habits is a major challenge.

In my own situation, my 4 children have kept my wife and I on our toes for as long as we’ve been parents.  From forgetting to do something that is a twice-daily ritual in our house, to having issues with certain toothpaste flavours, to not liking the brush, to “I’m toooo tired to brush” and many more excuses, the practice of good oral hygiene has always been a work in progress.

While technology seems to be encroaching just about everywhere in our daily lives, tooth brushing and other areas of oral hygiene have not seen as many consumer-specific advances as we have in other areas.  While I’m not someone who necessarily believes that technology can be a solution to every problem we have, I’d certainly be open-minded if there were a technology-driven solution to the common challenge parents face when it comes to teaching and developing good brushing habits to their kids.

It turns out that technology-driven companies have been listening.

Philips, the Dutch technology company that focuses mostly in the areas of electronics, healthcare and lighting have just launched their Connected Philips Sonicare for Kids; a rechargeable power toothbrush,  that is newly designed with Bluetooth technology to give kids a whole new brushing experience.

Philips Connected Sonicare for Kids

Philips Connected Sonicare for Kids

Yup…a Bluetooth enabled toothbrush.  Why does it need Bluetooth?  Well, you see there is also an App for that.

The toothbrush is paired with the Sonicare for Kids App which features “Sparkly”, an animated character that helps to establish good brushing habits for kids which they should be able to implement into their daily routines for life.

The interactive component to this is something I have to admit is really neat.  You see Sparklies love to have clean teeth, but have little arms and need help from kids to brush. As children brush their own teeth, they also brush the teeth of their Sparkly. Over time, children earn rewards for their Sparkly like food, accessories, colours and new habitats. Sparklies can even learn to repeat what kids say!

 

The Sonicare brush itself features patented sonic technology which drives fluid between teeth and along the gum-line, gently delivering more than 500 brush strokes per second.  According to Philips it removes up to 75% more plaque than a manual toothbrush in hard to reach areas.  Another benefit is the fact the power switch can be set to an optimal amount of time for brushing.  After 1 or 2 minutes, the brush beeps and the child knows they have brushed long enough, while being guided by their Sparkly to get the job done right.

While I was admittedly a bit skeptical, I was provided with a Sonicare brush for each of my children to see if this new approach would lead to better brushing habits overall.  After a few weeks of watching and observing my children use the brush as well as the app, I have to say that my opinion of the new system is generally quite positive.

Photo: Eric Novak

Photo: Eric Novak

My children range in age from 6-1/2 to 13.  My youngest has clearly been the most enthusiastic user, but all of my children, even my eldest have had fun interacting with, and being motivated by the app and their individual Sparklies.  If there is one drawback, it’s that the app only can work with one brush at a time.  At our house we generally will have more than one child brushing at the same time, but if they both want to use the app while they brush they need to wait for their turn.  Our children do not have their own smartphones or tablets, so they share.  The app only runs on the latest operating systems so an older iPod or iPad for example won’t be able to work.  The end result for us is that my wife needs to allow her smartphone to be used for each child and the process when doing it 4 times in a row can be a bit cumbersome.

That being said, we have seen a noticeable interest in tooth brushing from all of our children so while it isn’t necessarily a quicker way to do things, it certainly seems to be a better way.

Photo: Philips

Photo: Philips

The Philips Connected Sonicare for Kids comes with a suggested retail price of $59.99 CDN and is available for purchase through a variety of in-store and online-based retailers.  Downloading of the Sonicare app is free.

So now that technology has come to make kids tooth brushing easier, I’m now waiting to see if there will next be a Bluetooth enabled device that will remind them to put away their shoes, dishes, clothes, etc once they are done with them.

Hey, a Dad can dream can’t he?!

Visit www.philips.ca/sonicare for more information and learn about the entire range of Philips Sonicare power toothbrushes.

(Disclaimer: In order to carry out this review, each of my children received a Connected Sonicare Brush of their own to use.  All opinions expressed however, remain solely my own with no editorial expectations placed upon me by either the manufacturer or their representatives and agencies.)

Eric Novak

About Eric Novak

Eric Novak is a father of 4 who also thinks that environmental stewardship is a requisite of parenting. He's not a professional Dad nor is he an environmental scientist, but he's someone who gives a damn and is trying to make the right decisions as he lives his life as a father, environmentalist and business owner. Eric and his wife Karen have 4 children and reside in Ajax, Ontario.