Getting kids to brush their teeth every morning and night can be difficult for most parents, and teaching them to brush adequately is even more difficult.
Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among children ages 6 to 11 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013). Instilling dental hygiene habits early can prevent future tooth decay. According to the Journal of Dental Research, preschoolers who have cavities in their baby teeth are 3 times as likely to develop cavities in their permanent teeth (Li & Wang, 2002).
Tooth decay can be prevented through proper dental care, but brushing all the hard to reach places is a challenge for kids. Luckily, there is a new app that can help. "Brush Up", created by Atlanta game developers "GamesThatWork", turns brushing into a game.
This toothbrush training game helps children learn proper brushing technique and gain motivation to brush everyday. Kids use their own toothbrush to brush along with a character named Budd, and they receive assessment of their brushing performance. They learn where to brush by mimicking what the Budd does as they watch themselves in a selfie mirror. To gain points, the child must brush carefully and then match video clips of their own brushing with those of Budd. They can use their points to choose virtual toys and decorations as prizes. These prizes are used to decorate their various rooms in the game.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) funded clinical trials of “Brush Up”. Their research showed that after just two weeks of using the “Brush Up” app, participants significantly improved brushing quality. The children who participated in the study were adequately brushing all tooth surfaces and had a 78% reduction in brushing shortcomings. A follow up study, conducted a full year after using “Brush Up”, found that the participants continued to brush carefully in previously neglected areas (Jacobson et al., 2014).
The free version of “Brush Up” can be downloaded through the iTunes App Store and the Google Play Store. Full content is available for $0.99/month or a one-time charge of $9.99, which includes a stream of new prizes, parental notifications and other features. For more information go to http://www.brushupgame.com.
Brush Up: The Toothbrush Training Game. (n.d.). Retrieved May 10, 2016, from http://www.brushupgame.com/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Preventing Dental Caries with Community Programs. (2013, July 10). Retrieved May 10, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/publications/factsheets/dental_caries.htm
Jacobson, R., Flores, J., Lourenco, S., Jacobson, J., Fuller, D., & Jacobson, D. (2014). Toothbrush training with a videogame.
Li, Y., & Wang, W. (2002). Predicting caries in permanent teeth from caries in primary teeth: an eight-year cohort study. Journal of dental research,81(8), 561-566.