Editor Susannah Warren puts the innovative new toothbrushing device and gaming app to the test
Getting my children to brush their teeth – or let me brush them – is a twice-daily struggle that, quite frankly, I could live without. It goes something along these lines: asking, encouraging, coaxing, negotiating, bribing, ordering, shouting, forcing their hand, and, on really bad days, giving up altogether. It’s exhausting, and certainly not the best way to bookend one’s day. So when I heard about Playbrush, a device that gamifies toothbrushing and encourages children to brush healthily, I jumped at the chance to try it out with my six- and three-year-old.
Invented by entrepreneur Paul Varga, 28, the simple silicone hardware device attaches to any conventional manual toothbrush and transforms it into a smart game controller that allows little ones to play fun and interactive mobile games while brushing. The Playbrush team worked with renowned dentists all over Europe to design an accompanying gaming app that would foster good oral hygiene, so as your little ones ‘play’ the instructional games, controlling it with their toothbrush, they get feedback on their brushing skills. This ensures they learn to brush everywhere and for the full two minutes every time. It sounds genius, but will my kids agree?
Things start well. I don’t think they can believe their luck when I produce my iPhone and announce we’re going to be playing a cool game on it first thing in the morning while brushing their teeth. The device, which comes in pink or blue, slips easily onto their toothbrushes and connects up quickly. And so the fun and games begin. The Playbrush team have designed a beautiful toothbrushing world called Utoothia, where the brusher has to save the Tooth Fairy from the evil Crobies (bacteria monsters) and their terrible leader, Plaksta. Anything involving getting ‘baddies’ is a hit with my son, and my daughter, who has lost seven teeth so far, would do anything to keep the Tooth Fairy alive and her piggy bank bulging. The kids love trying to zap the monsters and the result is that two minutes of brushing passes by in a flash.
It does take both of them (and me, because I couldn’t resist having a go as well) a little while to work out how to move their toothbrush in such a way as to kill the baddies on screen, but they soon get the hang of it and are brushing parts of their mouth that they would never normally reach alone.
In short, it’s a huge success. But is it just a flash in the pan? Thankfully, not. They never seem to grow tired of the Playbrush and their brushing skills and duration have improved no end. One might argue against increased screen time for our children at the beginning and end of the day, but it’s four minutes very well spent on technology as far as my family – and sanity – is concerned. Now my only problem is getting them to put their toothbrushes down. But it’s a good problem to have.
Playbrush.com – £39