Researchers Find Selfies Are Key to Better Brushing

teen taking a selfie

Researchers may have finally identified a legitimate purpose for the bathroom selfie.

Instead of showing off your new outfit or those washboard abs following a gym workout, perhaps it’s time to use the selfie as a tool for improved oral heath care.

Researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine found that capturing smartphone video selfies while brushing your teeth could help you learn better techniques that lead to improved oral health care, according to Colgate.

Those who took part in the study received instruction on proper brushing techniques and were evaluated and corrected until their technique was correct, according to researchers. Then they used smartphones placed on stands to video themselves brushing their teeth at home. Researchers saw an increase in brush stroke accuracy, as well as an increase in the total number of brushing strokes. Overall, they witnessed an 8 percent improvement in tooth brushing skill. The amount of time a person spent brushing their teeth went unchanged.

Video and picture selfies are finding professional uses in a variety of medical fields to evaluate and keep tabs on all sorts of treatments, according to one of the study’s co-authors.

“We often incorporate videos into orthodontic evaluations to demonstrate processes or to show patients what their treatment progress may look like,” says Alpharetta orthodontist Dr. Nima Hajibaik. “It’s an effective way of conveying important information, so it makes sense that selfie videos could help people learn better oral care techniques.”

Researchers believe that those who participated in the study improved their techniques because videoing themselves prompted them to pay closer attention to what they were doing. This study could pave the way for a video-based monitoring app in which oral health professionals can give feedback on brushing techniques.

Oral care during orthodontic treatment is important because several issues related to improper brushing technique could set you back in your treatment schedule.

Gingivitis is one common concern during treatment, particularly in the beginning when patients are getting accustomed to having brackets, bands and arch wires on the teeth. Navigating around these foreign objects can prove challenging for some patients as they try to keep their teeth and appliances clean and free of food particles. The gums can become red and inflamed over time when these food particles are left behind and plaque forms. Swollen gums make it more difficult for Dr. Nima to achieve prescribed tooth movements.

Plaque can lead to cavities, and treating a cavity may require temporary removal of some orthodontic appliances so your dentist can reach the decayed tooth to repair it. Every day that your teeth aren’t in active treatment is a day of lost progress.

When plaque isn’t removed each day, it becomes tartar – a hard substance that can only be removed by your dentist or dental hygienist.

“Patients often are shocked to learn that something as simple as brushing and flossing your teeth properly each day can help them complete orthodontic treatment on time,” Dr. Nima says. “It’s interesting to note that the selfie – something many of us love to take – might pave the way to better oral health.”