By leveraging the power of mobile technology, dentists can encourage more patients to develop effective oral hygiene habits between visits – improving their outcomes and satisfaction.
By Genni Burkhart
From sleep and fertility to sports recovery, fitness, nutrition, blood pressure and heart rate monitoring, mental health, diabetes, dermatology, and eyecare, there's an endless assortment of healthcare apps – and oral health is no exception.
Oral health apps have the potential to revolutionize preventive dentistry, making it easier than ever for patients of all ages to maintain good oral hygiene. These apps allow users to access features such as brushing reminders, flossing tips, and educational materials about gum health and teeth whitening. Moreover, mobile apps can help users keep track of their progress to improve their oral hygiene, empowering them to take control of their dental health.
With so many available apps, we'll review the most beneficial oral health apps that aim to educate and encourage patients to maintain optimal dental hygiene. While it's important to emphasize that this technology doesn't replace in-person, routine checkups, oral health apps are a practical, convenient, encouraging, and fun way to connect with your patients.
Everyone Has a Smartphone
In a world that's constantly on the go, we've become a society that's heavily reliant on technology. Introduced in 1993, 85 percent of Americans now have smartphones, double the amount since 2011.
This increasing reliance on mobile technology speaks to its impact on our day-to-day lives, making it an invaluable tool for communication. Whether for work or pleasure, our mobile devices and their applications provide us with the tools to stay connected to those we care about while also keeping us informed and productive.
Mobile apps (applications) are software programs designed to run on our smartphones and tablets. Generally speaking, these apps provide a focused function to the user, such as social media, games, banking, weather, shopping, healthcare, and more. In addition, apps usually require a unique identifier (login), so the information on that app can be individualized, unique, and private to that user.
Top 5 List
- Brush DJ Following the "2-minute rule," Brush DJ was the first oral health app approved by England's National Health Service and has been downloaded nearly 500,000 times. The app allows users to set reminders to brush twice daily, floss, use mouthwash, and set alerts to visit their dentist. The app's main feature is playing 2 minutes of a song (taken from the user's music library on their mobile device) to make brushing "less boring."
- Text2Floss This Delta Dental of Arizona sponsored app features oral health information, a detailed campaign report, and personalization based on your age group. The app is available in multiple languages and provides a timer for flossing. It also has a GPS-enabled "Find A Clinic" locator so users can directly contact their dentist through the app via phone or email.
- Dental Dictionary by Farlex Is anyone interested in diving deeper into oral health? Ideal for patent education and dental professionals alike, this free, fully accessible app has more than 18,000 dental definitions and over 3,000 images from trusted dental and oral healthcare professionals.
- Oral-B (Best of) We named this app the "Best Of" because it has everything. In addition to tracking gum bleeding, offering oral health coaching, and providing brushing habit assessments and in-depth personal insight, this app revolutionizes mouth hygiene by using an Oral B "smart toothbrush." To guide users while brushing, the app utilizes "3D Teeth Tracking" and "AI Brushing Recognition." In addition, users can gain a deeper insight into their oral health by pairing the app with the Apple Health app to track and review brushing habits.
- Personalized Mobile App for Your Practice Manage appointments, send patients essential updates and even send reminders and notifications with your very own dental practice app. Dental practices can use a variety of Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms to create an app that their patients can easily download. Then, to stay directly connected to your patients, you can customize the app to fit your needs and incorporate a range of features. From push notifications to secure messaging, your dental practice app can provide a variety of ways for you to stay in touch with your patients and encourage them to brush, floss, and make appointments.
Are Dental Apps Effective?
According to a leading digital health app designer, Mindsea, over 350,000 health-related apps are available, with around 250 new apps released daily. In fact, health-related apps accounted for 47 percent of all apps in 2021.
Regarding the effectiveness of oral health apps, The British Dental Journal published a study in 2015 titled "The use of a mobile app to motivate evidence-based oral hygiene behavior." This study evaluated the effectiveness of mobile technology in motivating evidence-based oral hygiene behaviors. The results included 70 percent of respondents reporting their teeth felt cleaner from using the app "Brush DJ," 39.3 percent experiencing a reduction in bleeding gums, 88 percent said they increased the amount of time spent brushing their teeth, and 92.3 percent of respondents would recommend the app to their friends and family (1). However, the most striking result was the app's simple yet effective ability to increase motivation to brush and pay attention to one's oral hygiene habits. As a result, the app was praised for effectively inspiring users to maintain proper oral hygiene habits, causing researchers to recommend further use and research.
Try as one might, it's hard to deny the convenience that mobile phones provide to billions of people worldwide. And when it comes to self-improvement or building healthy habits – there's an app for that! For example, dental apps have been shown to promote long-term oral health by making it easier than ever for individuals to maintain consistent oral hygiene habits. From telehealth visits to preventative care, this technology empowers dental patients to take better care of their teeth – conveniently and effectively.
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- Underwood, B., Birdsall, J. & Kay, E. The use of a mobile app to motivate evidence-based oral hygiene behavior. Br Dent J 219, E2 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.bdj.2015.660
Author: With over 13 years as a published journalist, editor, and writer Genni Burkhart's career has spanned politics, healthcare, law, business finance, technology, and news. She resides on the western shores of the idyllic Puget Sound, where she works as the Editor in Chief for the Incisor at DOCS Education out of Seattle, WA.