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 MouthHealthy.org.

© 2017 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

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How to FLOSS

  1. Pull 18 to 24 inches of dental floss from the floss dispenser.

  2. Wrap the ends of the floss around your index and middle fingers.

  3. Hold the floss tightly around each tooth in a C shape; move the floss back and forth in a push-pull motion and up and down against the side of each tooth.

How to BRUSH

  1. Place the toothbrush at a 45°angle along the gum line. Move the toothbrush in a back and forth motion, and repeat for each tooth.

  2. Brush the inside surface of each tooth, using the same back and forth technique.

  3. Brush the chewing surface (top) of each tooth.

  4. Use tip of brush to brush behind each tooth — front and back, top and bottom and up and down strokes.

  5. Be sure to brush your tongue to remove odor-causing bacteria.

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