by Karen Kaiser,

Best of times

Nov. 1, 2010
A great range of devices have been invented to keep time.
A great range of devices have been invented to keep time. In the dental office, time is monitored, for example, for the length of an appointment, or precise timing with products to ensure treatment success. Timing is also important for patients, who use products for an adequate amount of time in home care. After all, too little time spent on plaque removal will consequently contribute to more time spent in the dental chair. Patients often remark, "I just don't have the time to brush, floss, or rinse. How long do I need to brush anyway?"

Some timely products make time management easier for patients.

Generally speaking, have you ever noticed when one watches a clock, time appears to pass more slowly? When it comes to checking the time, will wrist watches become obsolete? Nowadays, cell phones display the most accurate time, and many also have timers. The phones are kept close by at all times.

Still, the time spent on caring for the mouth should be a priority. Consumer surveys report that over an average American's lifetime, 38.5 days are spent brushing his or her teeth, with an average person brushing for 45 to 70 seconds on any given day.

With such a short time being spent on plaque removal, professional recommendations on how to be more efficient in the time one spends brushing is significant. Philips Sonicare motivates patients with timers integrated into their power toothbrush line. The Flex Care+ power brush has a feature that promotes brushing at a timed cycle. The "gum care" mode runs for a three minute round, allowing areas to be effectively reached to improve tissue health. Two minutes of the cycle is powered up for general plaque removal. An added minute is used to concentrate on more tender gingival areas or difficult to maintain spots as with periodontal involvement. With Smartimers (recommended two-minute mode) and Quadpacers, patients can be audibly alerted to the recommended length of time to spend brushing each section in their mouth.

Keeping kids brushing is no easy task. Sunstar Americas motivates kids ages four to 11 to manually brush more with its Crayola brush line, which features a LED lighted timer. The timer flashes continuously until the cycle is completed. More effective cleaning occurs when kids brush longer. The base of the brush has a suction cup that can stick to a counter and is also where the timer is triggered. Once pushed, the child watches the blinking brush in hand and brushes for a minute, focusing on the top or bottom teeth only. After the minute, the flashing will stop; then the child pushes the flasher again and resumes brushing for another minute, finishing the other arch. The toothbrush is available in colors of blue, green, yellow, and red, and the handle of the brush flashes the color as well to illuminate the entire brush handle when the timer is activated.

More amusement during brushing is found when a white molar shaped timer is used. The Twooth Timer Company has a simple turn-the-top timer, which ticks and then dings a bell when the two minutes have elapsed. The molar timer is small, taking up little counter space. No batteries are required for the unit. This molar timer can be used for timing brushing, mouth swishing with rinses, and more.

Another time keeper is Hager Worldwide's molar clock, fit for operatory display. The white plastic clock allows timing of dental treatment with a second hand function. This mighty molar will have patients smiling time after time. Now is the time to add fun as a motivator, making the focus on dental care as time well spent.

The author did not receive compensation for products mentioned.

Karen Kaiser, RDH, graduated from St. Louis' Forest Park dental hygiene program in 1994 and currently practices at the Center for Contemporary Dentistry in Columbia, Ill. She has written several articles for RDH and other publications, sits on dental hygiene panels, and is an evaluator for Clinical Research Associates.Editor's Note: In the August 2010 issue, this column incorrectly identified Premier Dental's Event fluoride trays, which Ms. Kaiser said made "dual-arch fluoride applications simple." We regret the error.

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