It's not just the stuff of sci-fi anymore: nowadays, plenty of people use voice-activated assistants like Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri and Google Assistant to help make their lives a little easier.

You might use your digital assistant to play music, set alarms, search the web, find out the weather or turn your devices on and off – but what about helping your family brush and floss their teeth?

A nightly oral hygiene routine is important to help minimise your risk of issues like tooth decay and gum disease.[1,2] Your virtual assistant may not brush your teeth for you, but with the right updates and a little creativity, it can potentially help make you or your kids’ oral hygiene routine easier and more fun.

Reminding you to brush

One of the simplest and most useful functions of virtual assistants is the ability to set voice alerts to remind you to do something at specific times.

If you or a family member sometimes struggle to remember to brush or floss, you can set reminders at selected times every day to help you get into a routine.

Your virtual assistant can also remind you when it's time for your dental appointment if you note it down in your diary. It can also remind you to get a new toothbrush if it's been over three months since you bought the last one.

Dentists recommend that you brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss once daily and visit your dentist for a regular check-up and clean. [1,2]

Helping you brush

As well as remembering to brush and floss, it's important that you clean your teeth for the right amount of time. Hygienists and dentists usually recommend brushing for 2 minutes to improve your chances of removing as much plaque and food particles as possible.

You can set up a basic alert for 2 minutes or add a timer to your virtual assistant. It may also be possible to create skills such as teeth brushing that can guide you through brushing different areas of your mouth, helping you brush thoroughly and cover all the surfaces.

Making brushing fun

Some of us (especially kids) might need extra encouragement or entertainment when we brush. Virtual assistants can provide entertainment by playing your favourite songs, podcasts or news updates while you brush and floss.

For example, if you have kids, some virtual assistants have skills dedicated to keeping little brushers entertained and encouraging them to brush for the full 2 minutes with songs, stories and jokes.

Kids and parents could also find motivation in goal trackers that count the number of times you brush and floss – this could be a good way to set goals and celebrate when you’ve reached them!

Teaching fun facts

Voice assistants can be a useful tool in our busy lives. As a bonus, many kids may find this tech entertaining too!

If they love to ask their assistant questions, encourage your kids to ask your virtual assistant about oral health topics. You might even learn a few surprising facts yourself about your teeth, the importance of oral hygiene and the truth about the tooth fairy.

Even if you don’t have a virtual assistant, there are lots of different apps and online activities that can help kids with brushing, flossing and maintaining good oral hygiene. Oral health therapists, hygienists and dentists can all recommend age-appropriate tools and techniques, so don’t hesitate to ask!

Questions about oral health or hygiene?

For more info on oral hygiene and kids’ oral health, get in touch with your local Bupa Dental clinic.

References

[1] Australian Dental Association (ADA). Brushing [Online, accessed May 2018] Available from: www.ada.org.au

[2] Australian Dental Association (ADA). Flossing [Online, accessed May 2018] Available from: www.ada.org.au