Imagine converting brushing teeth for your kids from a chore (one that involves a lot of nagging, negotiating, sometimes even bribing from your side) to an exciting and welcomed activity in your home. Where your kids willingly race to brush their teeth properly for two full minutes?
Enter the Playbrush. A simple concept that has transformed lives worldwide.
What is the Playbrush?
It’s a small silicone device that allows you to manually insert your child’s toothbrush in it and then using Bluetooth technology, connects to an app on your phone or tablet, allowing your child to play a game while brushing their teeth. Think of it like a magic wand that converts your child’s toothbrush into a gaming device. The Playbrush company believe that “children are motivated to brush their teeth by interactive mobile games and a brushing reward system.”
The Playbrush is attractively packaged and contains the Playbrush attachment, a standard child’s toothbrush, a USB charging cable, and a plastic smartphone holder. The box states “Brushing lasts 2x longer when it’s fun!” and this information is backed by a scientific study involving 115 children in 2017. I thought that was a nice bit of information to share with parents. The Playbrush is targeted at kids aged 3 to 14 years.
How does it work?
It is fairly easy to set up, and graphically explained on the packaging as well:
- Charge the Playbrush attachment for 2 minutes to activate it. The base will emit a green flash when it’s ready to use.
- Download the free apps on your phone or tablet (available on the App Store and Google Play). The free apps are Utoothia and Utoothia Paint. There are other games available but at a price.
- Insert your child’s toothbrush into the Playbrush and align according to arrows indicated.
- Switch on Bluetooth on your phone or tablet.
- Open either the Utoothia or Utoothia Paint app and connect to Playbrush by following instructions on screen. You can register an account with Playbrush and it is now ready for use.
Putting Playbrush to the test
My 9-year-old son was incredibly excited to receive the Playbrush, which my sister in Joburg posted for him to try out. Prior to this, I didn’t need to remind him about brushing his teeth in the mornings, although the evenings were a problem. But even when my son was brushing, we would argue that he was not brushing long enough, or vigorously enough.
I downloaded both the free apps on my phone – the Utoothia and the Utoothia Paint app. The Playbrush team created a gaming universe called Utoothia, where evil monsters or “crobies” attack you. You need to brush in the direction of the attacking crobies in order to eliminate them and gain rewards. In the Utoothia Paint app, which is targeted towards younger kids, you are presented with a picture that needs to be painted in by brushing in different directions, in the colours of your choice. Both games have a time limit of two minutes in which you need to complete your target by brushing in four different directions, each corresponding to the four quadrants of your mouth: inner top, inner bottom, outer left and outer right. As you are playing the game, you are commended for brushing well and the app also lets you know whether you have completed brushing each of the quadrants properly. The interactive feedback is very helpful and motivating. As your child brushes daily, he will unlock more features in the apps, making it more exciting.
The first evening my son used the Playbrush, he brushed twice and was ready for the third round, before I had to stop him and remind him he could always do it the next day! It was an instant success from a parent’s point of view. He alternated between both the apps in the nights that followed during the past two weeks, and managed to find out where his weakness in his brushing lay. He even worked to better his score and try and complete the quadrant where he fell short on previous nights.
One of the best features of the Playbrush is the weekly brushing report I get emailed to me (upon registering an account on the app before first use). The report lets you know which days your child brushed; whether he brushed once or twice per day or not at all; for how long he brushed; and more details on which quadrants were brushed the most. However, my son only uses the Playbrush in the evenings, as he has a very early start in the mornings where it’s not practical for me to ensure my phone is ready for him to use at that hour.
The Playbrush removes the banality of brushing teeth for kids and more importantly, it ensures they brush for two full minutes with the aim of brushing all four quadrants of the mouth. I personally did not find the plastic smart phone holder with suction cups (that is included with the Playbrush) very useful, as my son found it easier for my phone to stand on the sink, upright against the wall.
Instead I improvised and use the holder to store the Playbrush and toothbrush in the bathroom. Given the amount of gadgets that are marketed to parents today, I think the Playbrush is definitely one worth investing in.
The Playbrush is available to purchase at the iStore for R399.