New Dental Apps Encourage Hygiene

Woman brushing teeth while looking at her phone

Technology is everywhere we go, in everything we do. From smart phones to robot assistants to app-enabled camera doorbells, chances are you already have at least one smart device in your home working to make your life easier. But what if you could make caring for your smile a little easier, too? A bunch of new tech companies are aiming to do just that, and they could change the way we care for our teeth forever. Imagine if your toothbrush could go beyond brushing your teeth and tell your dentist and dental insurance provider how well you’re caring for your oral health. Sure, it may seem like tattling, but what if those reports meant lower dental insurance premiums? It could soon be possible in all 50 states when the Beam brush expands its 27-state network this year. The Beam brush works by recording your brushing habits via an app and reporting back to your insurer. From there, if everyone in your group is maintaining a high score on their hygiene, your premiums go down. To sweeten the pot, the top performers in any group get an additional 10 percent discount on their premiums. Dr. Alexandra George of Wexford, Pennsylvania, thinks apps like the Beam system are a great way to encourage healthy hygiene – as well as healthy competition. “It’s kind of the adult version of a rewards chart,” says George. “The patient gets rewarded by lower premiums, and coworkers can compete with each other for the top spot to save that extra 10 percent. That competition can also encourage everyone to do better, because that saves the whole team money regardless of who the top brusher is.” In that same spirit, the Level app provides its own insurance plan in simple, clear language. Level helps the consumer shop for a dentist based on the cost of procedures, with clearly listed prices, so the patient always knows what to expect out of pocket. Like Beam, the major drawback to Level thus far is that it must be offered through an employer, but George says it raises another possible red flag that consumers should be aware of. “The problem I see with Level is that patients may choose a provider based on cost alone, when that provider may not be the best fit for them,” she says. “They could have bad reviews or may not be board certified, and that’s why they cost so much less than other providers. You would definitely need to do your homework.” For her part, George recommends reading reviews and even asking for board certification information before choosing any provider, not just the ones participating in app-based insurance programs. As for how these apps will change dentistry, George says hopefully they will make it easier and less confusing, and maybe even save some teeth (and lives) in the process.

Dr. Alexandra S. George

Medically reviewed by Dr. Alexandra S. George - D.D.S., L.Vl.I.F. on September 8th, 2019