What is a Mouthpiece toothbrush?
A mouthguard or mouthpiece toothbrush is a new style of dental health product that cleans all the teeth at the same time.
A moulded (often silicone) component is placed into the mouth and bitten into like you might a mouthguard used for sports.
Connecting to a control/power unit that sits outside of the mouth, when powered on, the bristles inside the U shaped mouthpiece clean the front, back and chewing surfaces of both the upper and lower teeth simultaneously.
How do they work?
Each mouthpiece toothbrush works slightly different depending on how the creator has developed and manufactured the product.
The underlying principle and theory is very similar to a regular electric toothbrush.
A built-in power source (the battery) will power a motor when the brush is switched on. The motor drives a series of brush heads/bristles inside the mouthpiece.
The bristles sweep along the tooth and gum surfaces and clean the teeth in a similar fashion to a regular toothbrush.
However, unlike a regular toothbrush, the design means that all 3 surfaces of your teeth are cleaned at the same time, reducing the amount of time you need to brush for.
Amabrush, one of the brands behind such a product has put together the following graphic to show how it works.
Fewer brushing errors – the human element removed
You can have the most feature-rich and capable electric toothbrush available, but if you don’t correctly position and move it around the mouth, you are not helping yourself.
Brushing for 2 minutes is one thing, but having the right technique is another.
There are recommended ways in which to brush your teeth with an electric toothbrush, but this relies on you, the human controlling the brush, to move and position it correctly to allow the bristles to sweep away the plaque and bacteria.
Despite your best efforts there will be times where your approach is inconsistent, small areas of the mouth may be missed. It’s normal, it’s human nature.
A mouthpiece toothbrush reduces the chance of error.
The mouthpiece is a fixed shape and size and the bristles located to reach and clean the teeth and gums.
In principle the mouthguard style brush head reduces the variation in the cleaning technique and positioning during each clean, meaning in time you can have healthier teeth and gums because you receive a better clean.
Mouthpiece toothbrushes reduce brushing time, but clean your teeth for longer
As little as 3 seconds is all that is required to clean your teeth with a mouthpiece toothbrush, but the leading brand within this space, Amabrush, has set the brushing time to just 10 seconds.
Even at 10 seconds that is some 110 seconds less, every brushing session.
I could save myself some 48 days in my lifetime by reducing my brushing time to just 10 seconds.
Now, you are probably thinking I have always been told to brush for 2 minutes and that is right.
120 seconds or 2 minutes twice a day is pretty much a global recommendation. It’s the best balance between time and effective tooth cleaning.
But when this time was agreed upon by dentists, products like these mouthguard toothbrushes did not exist.
Technological advances have allowed us to reach the point where just 20 seconds of brushing a day could be enough.
You only need look at the 30 Second Smile electric toothbrush to see how significant time reduction is possible.
The mouthpiece toothbrush does — believe it or not — actually brush each tooth surface for longer, despite cleaning your teeth for less time.
How?! Well allow me to explain.
If you think about how you brush your teeth now. Although you may brush for 2 minutes at a time, you are not spending 2 minutes on each tooth, in fact just a few seconds.
The average adult has 32 teeth. Each tooth has 3 surfaces that need brushing.
With 96 tooth surfaces to be brushed (32×3) and a normal brushing time of 120 seconds, that is just 1.25 seconds per tooth surface (120/96).
The BIG difference with mouthpiece toothbrushes is that they brush all 3 surfaces at the same time.
Therefore even placing the new mouthpiece brush into your mouth for just 1.25 seconds would in theory be equivalent to what you do now.
However, 2 of the 3 innovators within this space are suggesting a brushing time of 10 seconds.
Who is making them?
In 2017 there were 3 main brands/manufacturers that announced a mouthpiece electric toothbrush.
All 3 introduced and have funded their products via crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
Amabrush were the first, with Ufunbrush and Unico following.
Amabrush has to date achieved the greatest level of funding, developed the product furthest and in my mind, presented the best overall package.
They achieved €4,300,000, just shy of 6400%, more than their desired funding goal and as of early 2019 have now turned concept into a reality, with customers (ourselves included) having received working units.
Why not take a look at each of the promotional videos they created to secure initial investment.
In 2018, Y-Brush was announced and has also been successfully funded.
It looks to be the most serious competitor to Amabrush.
More traditional brands within the dental health space such as Oral-B, Sonicare and Colgate have not announced or launched such products.
I suspect they have been working on such, but until there is significant demand from the public for change, then they will not.
A large proportion of people do not seek the benefits an electric toothbrush brings.
Are they clinically tested and proven?
To date, the mouthpiece style brushes have been conceptualised, pilot tested and refined ready for the general public to start using during 2018.
The brands suggest that they have worked with dental professionals to develop such products to ensure they perform effectively, but it is too early for any serious clinical trials to have been conducted and for the brushes to be compared to current electric toothbrushes.
As the brushes come to market, there will likely be some testing and trials that take place.
However, such trials are expensive to conduct and take time, so we do not expect to see reliable results until 2020 and beyond.
Having myself spoken to many of the product creators, they would not continue with manufacturing and producing a product they do not believe could succeed and deliver beneficial results to the public.
That said, having gone hands on in our review of Amabrush, we are a little concerned at what we discovered. A clinical trial is simply not necessary. We can tell you first hand that the cleaning experience is below the standard you would expect.
All hope is not yet lost, there are other products to test before writing such an innovative approach off.
Are they better than a regular electric toothbrush?
Whether something is better or not is of course personal opinion, it depends on your point of view and how exactly we judge these new types of electric toothbrushes.
Of utmost importance is the clean that they deliver.
To date, none have suggested they would offer a better clean than conventional tooth brushing methods.
Amabrush for example have specifically cited that their brush will conform to the BASS method which is a widely recognised approach in tooth cleaning, which shows there is a significant level of importance placed on how well the brush actually cleans.
Sadly, in reality, the moulded mouthpiece does not offer the consistent and high standard of cleaning we expected. It is not yet time to ditch the manual or regular electric toothbrush.
Only time and testing will really show how good or bad all or these different brands of mouthpiece brushes are.
To be worth investing in, the cleaning experience needs to be equivalent to a manual or electric brush.
Of course a big factor here is convenience. The reported time saving could be a big appeal for those that are time-poor.
The brushes are unlikely to offer up the same battery life as a regular toothbrush due to the size constraints, so this could be a downside.
Claims are between 2 and 4 weeks. Of course this is just a few minutes of running time compared to 1 hour or more available on most regular brushes.
Amabrush has however lasted much longer in our testing.
Features may be limited — the larger handle of a regular brush allows for more technology to be built-in, but that hasn’t stopped the introduction of Bluetooth into some.
What features do they have?
The core feature is the ability to clean the teeth quickly and effectively, whilst being compact, portable and generally convenient, but each product has its own additional features that make it unique.
Ufunbrush for example is aimed more at children being the primary users, with fun stickers being attached to the mouthpiece to make it more ‘fun’ and enjoyable to use.
They will be available in a range of colors and with different sized mouthpieces to fit the mouths of children from ages 3+ to adults.
It is the only one to be powered by a removable battery.
Unico will offer different sized mouthpieces as well as a modular storage system with UV sanitiser and smartphone app. It also has a built in toothpaste dispenser.
Amabrush has radically evolved the product and range of accessories due to the high level of funding.
Bluetooth connectivity and smartphone app are a reality, as is a wireless charging stand, travel case, UV santiizer and more.
At this time it is not a complete like-for-like with regular electric toothbrushes but there is an increasing similarity with features like Bluetooth and wireless charging being offered.
How much do they cost?
At present the majority of these items are not for sale. When you “buy” the product your are funding the developer. You should get a product in return when it is finished.
The cost depends on the brand you go for and the package you select from what is on offer.
Prices start from as little as $60/£45/€50 with the average starter kit being $120/£90/€100
In return for backing their crowdfunding campaigns, most are offering a significant discount on what will be the commercial retail price.
If you want to save some cash, now is the time to do it.
You can see each campaign and the price using the links below:
If you are thinking that this is expensive compared to a regular electric toothbrush, then yes there is a bit of a premium to be paid, but that is necessary for the advantage and innovation they bring.
Where can I see and try them?
At this time the only way to see and try one is to back one of the crowdfunding campaigns and wait until a finalised commercial product is available and has been shipped to you.
Until finalised production units are available there is no way or place that you can see or try them.
What do the reviews say?
It is still early days in terms of review for mouthpiece toothbrushes.
To date, Amabrush is the only product we have reviewed.
We will test other models and compared them when they are available.
You can read our Amabrush review here.
When we do review more, we will update this article with the relevant links.
Where can I buy them?
At the time of writing the brushes are primarily available through crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
Which brush are you backing?
We have an interest in all of these different mouthpiece toothbrushes and would love for all of them to do well and make a name for themselves.
Of course key to this is being good at what they do.
Amabrush was the first we back and the first we have reviewed and sadly our expectations were dashed when we went hands on.