Study: recording selfies while brushing teeth can improve oral health care skills

Recording smartphone video selfies of tooth brushing can help people learn to improve their oral health care techniques, according to a study released in August.

Using smartphones propped on stands, study participants filmed their brushing at home. Researchers saw an increase in the accuracy of brush strokes, an increase in number of strokes and an overall 8 percent improvement in tooth brushing skill — but the length of time a person brushed did not change.

"Often, tooth-brushing 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 tooth brushing 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. Patients can then receive feedback from dental professionals."

The very act of recording a selfie may disrupt ingrained habits, making participants conscious of their brushing and reinforce staples of behavioral change, including the process of memory formation, association and creating new muscle memory, according to the study.

Before the study, participants' brushing habits were assessed and corrected until each were able to demonstrate proper technique. During the study, they were scored on time spent brushing and skill mastery, including brushing in a circular motion, obtaining a 45-degree angle while brushing facial surfaces of teeth and correct positioning of the arm.

The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes to obtain optimal oral health. For more oral health tips from the ADA, visit

© American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

Don’t brush off your oral health

Brushing and flossing are the keys to a healthy smile. Check out of products to find what’s right for you.