A group of researchers in Japan have discovered that how effectively we clean our teeth and how satisfied we are with quality of the brushing depends on the sound of the bristles scrubbing against the enamel. The team used a tiny microphone in a modified toothbrush to ‘sample’ the sound being made in the mouth during brushing and to modulate it and then feed that sound back to a group of volunteers via headphones to see what effect the sound has on cleaning efficacy and satisfaction. The team found that if they manipulated the pitch, or loudness and frequency, of the brushing sound they could change the volunteers’ perception of comfort experienced and accomplishment of brushing. It was also demonstrated that if they gradually increased the frequency as teeth cleaning progressed, the volunteers felt like the process was more comfortable and at the end of brushing that their teeth were cleaner.
The researchers feel that it may be possible to motivate users to perform regular brushing to help avoid them in developing cavities. It seems the researchers would like to develop a special toothbrush to manipulate the frequency of tooth brushing sounds. Right now their prototype requires someone to wear headphones. The researches think that bone conduction speaker systems could be incorporated into a smart toothbrush and create an amplified feedback loop in the mouth. In addition, a developed smart toothbrush could come equipped with a built in force sensor to indicated if someone is brushing too hard and could make a sound to encourage them to brush gentler. Progress in toothbrushes certainly could help aid dentists and increase everyone’s oral health.
Taku Hachisu and Hiroyuki Kajimoto. Augmentation of Toothbrush by Modulating Sounds Resulting from Brushing. Int. J. Arts and Technology, 2015, vol. 8, no. 4, pp.307-324.