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Could the TruthBrush Improve on the Toothbrush?

An estimated 268.73 million Americans use manual toothbrushes – at least according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But despite this overwhelming majority (only 101.4 million Americans use electric toothbrushes), very little innovation has been made in the manual toothbrush field since its first design in 1498. But now, a new invention from Cambridge Design Partnership is aiming to change that. It’s called the TruthBrush, and it was designed with a very specific purpose.

"The TruthBrush was designed to show researchers not only how to make the toothbrush more effective, but also how people actually use their toothbrush while they’re brushing," says Dr. Stephen Hill, a dentist from Allen, Texas.

It works by using tiny sensors called accelerometers and strain gauges, which observe how people brush their teeth while they’re brushing.

"They are looking at how fast people brush their teeth, and how much pressure they apply to each tooth," says Hill. "The aim is to get as complete a picture as possible of how the teeth are really brushed with a manual brush."

According to Hill, the TruthBrush designers are hoping to perfect the sensors so they’re so small that users may not even realize they’re embedded in the toothbrush.

"I think if people feel like they’re being watched or monitored, they’ll be less likely to brush, or to brush the way they normally would. They’ll try to look good for the sensors, instead of being honest," says Hill.

The designers hope that adding sensors to regular manual brushes will yield important data for toothbrush designers in the future.

"If there’s an improvement that can be made to make a regular toothbrush more effective, that’s going to help a lot of people. Nearly 270 million of them in the United States alone," he says.

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