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Toothbrush gets 'smart' with optical sensor

08 Jan 2020

Colgate reveals first-of-a-kind oral healthcare product at CES event in Las Vegas.

Smart technologies could be about to enter the bathroom, after dental hygiene giant Colgate revealed a new toothbrush featuring optical sensors.

Colgate says that the electric toothbrush, known as “Plaqless Pro” and launched at this week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, is able to detect the build-up of biofilm in the mouth.

It does that with sensors embedded in the handle of the toothbrush, creating a “map” of the user’s mouth.

A light ring around the toothbrush appears blue when a build-up of biofilm is spotted, and switches to white light when the film has been removed.

Dedicated brushers will even be able to download Colgate’s smart phone app, which will show them exactly how effective their brushing technique is - or isn't.

“Every time they brush users can consult the app to see exactly where they brushed their teeth, where they missed a spot and now if an area brushed is truly clean,” states the company.

Company CTO Patricia Verduin added: “Our new Plaqless Pro delivers the superior cleaning of a powered toothbrush, the proven location tracking of advanced oral care devices, and now the detection of an oral scanner that enables personal brushing feedback in real time for a remarkable clean.”

While Colgate hasn’t revealed exactly how the optical sensor technology in the new toothbrush works, Verduin says that it is able to see through foamy toothpaste – suggesting that some kind of infrared emitter is involved.

Speaking on the CES exhibition floor, the CTO said: “What Plaqless Pro does is it identifies where build-up starts to occur. It’s personalized to your mouth, [and] to your way of brushing. Consumers can identify what’s happening in their mouth – are they cleaning well enough, and are they getting rid of the early signs of issues that can cause oral decay.”

Colgate’s toothbrush development is one of several innovations to win “best in show” prizes in the health and beauty sector at CES this year. Other honorees in the field that could prove useful in the bathroom include a “smart” make-up mirror from Korean firm ICON.AI, and a “smart” bath mat from French company Mateo said to be capable of measuring weight, posture, and body composition.

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