Startups disrupting the dental industry may also be disrupting your oral health.
Recent article by CBC News highlighted several new trends in the dental industry including at-home orthodontics, sleek toothbrushes and prettier floss. Some excellent new ideas…some not so much.
At-home orthodontics: Although the company SmileDirectClub has only just come to Canada, it has been in the US for several years. I can’t say I have heard any glowing reviews from my American collegeaus. I believe the idea is that the patient would not have to actually be seen by a dentist or orthodontist at all and would just have to send in photos and molds of their teeth as the article shows a photo of an home impression kit. As a dentist in order to make a diagnosis I rely hugely on touch as well as radiographic findings (xrays). Before any patient begins orthodontic treatment, the patient must be assessed for dental decay and their gum health must be checked. Unfortunately neither of these can be done with impressions and photos that will be sent in to a company. I am worried that a dentist may not follow a patient beginning this treatment regularly and moving their teeth with clear aligners could be greatly detrimental to the oral health.
Sleek looking electric toothbrush called Quip:
My sister told me about this company after seeing it on Instragram so I decided to check it out. They did have a program for professionals to try it out for free but unfortunately being in Canada I still had to pay quite a bit for it to be shipped to me. I did like the look of it but I unfortunately did not like how it felt when I used it to brush my teeth. It felt like it was doing more damage than good with hard inflexible bristles. The brush does vibrate but I think it vibrates your hand more than the bristles. I still have the brush with a spare head that is new but I will not let anyone else in my family use it. I keep getting emails from them to sign up for their subscription service. What is with subscriptions these days?
This is the only startup that I think I could get behind. I haven’t tried it yet so I can’t speak from experience but the principle makes sense to me. I agree with the statement that “She had a very healthy and young patient base who invested a lot in self-care, in going to the gym and eating the right foods, but for some reason or another were not flossing”. I have a lot of patients that fit into this category too. I don’t know if fun looking floss will make a difference but I don’t think it will do any harm. If floss is kept on the counter to show off its cool appearance it will likely at least make patients think about flossing more. It is claimed to remove more plaque as it is more textured and has more fun flavors. I will have to figure out how to get this one in Calgary so I can try it out. Stocking stuffer maybe?
Overall, as with any innovation sometimes there are new things that really advance an industry and other times there are ideas that can cause more harm than good. If you are wondering about something new you have seen ask your dentist! If they haven’t actually heard about it yet give them the information so they can use their clinical background and education to give you advice.
Dr. Lauren Vredenburg DMD
Calgary Fine Dentistry