Use of smart phones has improved the efficiency of our lives but have you ever considered that cell phones might be used to improve our oral health?

What teen doesn’t take a selfie? A recent study suggests that use of cell phones to take “selfie” videos improves toothbrushing technique (it was not found, however, to increase toothbrushing time). Participants recorded themselves brushing their teeth, and parameters such as accuracy and number of toothbrush strokes were tracked. Researchers concluded that filming our actions makes us more conscious of habitual actions and in turn leads to more thorough toothbrushing behaviors.

The Edge Animations App is available free for Android and Apple devices. In this app, one can find information about several orthodontic topics. In particular, videos with such topics as Flossing, Foods to Avoid and Orthodontic Parts show patients how to care for their orthodontic appliances.

Another free app, this one available from the Apple App Store, is called Snap Smile Share. This app can be used to send customizable text reminder alerts for use with appliances such as elastics, aligners or retainers. Many children and teens (and these days, many adults!) like to decorate their braces with different color elastic ties. The app can be used to show patients how the braces would look with different colors to share with friends, and a picture can be saved to show which colors they are choosing at their next appointment. The app also gives the user the ability to watch time-lapse videos of their teeth straightening, which are saved into the phone or can be shared on social media.

After orthodontic treatment, retainers must be worn to stabilize the new positions of the teeth. Bluetooth technology is currently being developed to track retainer wear for improved compliance. A device known as the SmartByte retainer contains a sensor that detects when the retainer is being worn. The information can then be sent to the user’s smart phone, a cloud database and to the orthodontist’s server. It is anticipated that this technology will be available within the next few years.

While this list is not exhaustive, it shows a variety of ways in which technology from our cell phones can be utilized to improve our dental health.