Toothbrushes are getting a little better at protecting us from the harmful bacteria that cause tooth decay, thanks to a new device developed by researchers at Stanford University.
A team of researchers led by Stanford University Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science, Eric R. Sacks, and colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, has successfully developed a toothbrush-like device that allows toothbrushing to be done safely and effectively.
In an article published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, the team describes their device in detail.
The device, called a “dentistry brush,” uses the same kind of silicon chip that is used in dental crowns and is designed to be worn over the mouth and jaw.
When used correctly, the device allows for safe, precise brushing over the teeth and jaw, the researchers say.
It is not, however, a toothbrush that cleans the teeth.
Instead, the dentistry brush has two sides that are connected by a “brush” that is attached to the teeth by a flexible metal rod that extends over the top of the teeth, and a second rod that goes over the “bottom” of the mouth.
This is where the toothbrush is held.
With the help of electrodes, the tooth brush can detect and record saliva from a patient’s mouth, while recording the amount of toothpaste and other chemicals that are produced by the patient’s teeth and mouth.
Using this information, the brush can then be worn on the mouth to “taste” the teeth in a controlled manner.
As part of the research, the scientists took a sample of human saliva from one of their volunteers and inserted it into a dental probe.
After a couple of seconds, the sample was collected, then the researchers took the sample and examined it to see whether the sample had the bacteria or not.
Surprisingly, the saliva was positive for Streptococcus and it had the ability to biofilm, which is when bacteria grows and spreads out of a cell.
Using this information they were able to determine the amount and type of bacteria in the sample.
So, in other words, this was a dental brush that actually cleans the mouth from bacteria, rather than a tooth brush that is designed for brushing the teeth itself.
Researchers say that the device could be used for brushing over other areas of the body, such as the hands, and even the arms, which are commonly damaged by dentures and other dental equipment.
They also say that this could be a boon for the elderly, as the devices could be worn as a bracelet or necklace for a period of time and can be worn without damaging the teeth themselves.
While the device is still in development, the research team has already started developing it into something that is actually practical for people, rather that just a tool for brushing teeth.
The researchers hope to use this information to develop a dental implant that can help people prevent tooth decay.
Image credit: Stanford University [via Stanford University, Nature Nanotech]