Checking the Claim: A 3-D Printed Toothbrush That Cleans Your Mouth in Six Seconds | Innovation | Smithsonian
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Checking the Claim: A 3-D Printed Toothbrush That Cleans Your Mouth in Six Seconds

A startup has developed a custom-fit tool that can brush the entire surface of your teeth all at once

smithsonian.com

Blizzident is similar to a mouth-guard, but it is lined with rows of bristles. Image courtesy of Blizzident.

In an ideal world, people would be as obsessed about their oral hygiene as they are with, say, texting. But with the understanding that many aren’t, a startup has developed a special toothbrush that it claims gives your mouth a deep clean feeling in six seconds flat.

As advanced as it sounds, Blizzident’s unique brush design manages somehow to be both high-tech and conventional. For instance, creating the toothbrush involves getting a standard impression of your teeth taken by a dentist and having it sent to a special lab where it can be translated into a digital visualization known as a 3-D scan. These specs are then uploaded to the company’s website and used as a blueprint to produce a customized 3-D printed toothbrush.

Once the high-tech part of the process is completed, what you’re left with is a simple one-piece tool that resembles a mouth-guard lined with dense rows of strategically-placed bristles. “Brushing” requires nothing more than simply inserting it over your teeth and biting down and releasing roughly ten times, which takes a total of six seconds. And since the bristles are specifically designed to reach each and every crevice and curvature all at once, the company claims their product can prevent common errors like missing spots or brushing too far above or below the gumline. The approach is not unlike putting a car through a motorized car wash to save time instead of manually scrubbing from front to end with a rag.

Oh, if only everything in life were this easy right? Well, not so fast. Some dental professionals have sounded the skepticism bell over some of the company’s claims. Dr. Mark S. Wolff, an associate dean at the New York University College of Dentistry, told ABC News that while the Blizzident was “a novel idea,” it would require additional evidence to demonstrate effectiveness over the long run, especially considering that it takes about two minutes for the fluoride in toothpaste to be effective.

Meanwhile, British Dental Association scientific advisor Damien Walmsley warns that cleaning your teeth in this unique manner may not be entirely safe. “It’s not what you use, it’s how you brush, it’s your technique,” he told the BBC. “It needs to be checked that it’s completely safe.”

Chris Martin, a spokesman for Blizzident, told Smithsonian.com that while there hasn’t been any published studies conducted on the device, the company knows of  “several universities” and  “hundreds of independent dentists and dental hygiene experts” that plan on testing Blizzident’s overall effectiveness.

For those who find the principles sound enough to be persuaded to at least give Blizzident a try, the company is selling the product through their website for $299. Though the asking price is quite steep, Martin points out that each toothbrush is comprised of the same high-quality source material used in implantable medical devices, and it’s good for an entire year before the need for a replacement. Owners can also opt to replace just the bristles for $89.

“We would certainly offer the Blizzident cheaper if we could,” he said.

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About Tuan C. Nguyen
Tuan C. Nguyen

Tuan C. Nguyen is a Silicon Valley-based journalist specializing in technology, health, design and innovation. His work has appeared in ABCNews.com, NBCNews.com, FoxNews.com, CBS' SmartPlanet and LiveScience.

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