Australian company, Erskine Oral Care, has won the 2015 UK Clinical Innovations Award for its new "Reverse Focus Tip" toothbrush. Well-known for their "Piksters" interdental brushes, Erskine Oral Care is now developing its own patented cleaning devices including the forward and reverse Focus Tip brushes, stain removers and tongue cleaners. The "U turn" design of the reverse head enables patients to thoroughly access the lingual of the incisors - a common area of plaque retention and calculus, especially when wire retainers are present. It works equally well with upper teeth and on the distal of molars.
Accepting the award in London, dentist turned innovator, Dr Craig Erskine-Smith commented that for years he and many others had been manually heating and bending brush heads to get the right angle, but all that was unnecessary now.
The brush heads are removable and replaceable and the "wave grip" handle that comes with the reverse focus head has a soft rubber thumb and palm area with enough tackiness to make gripping easy with less muscular effort - especially useful for the elderly and arthritics. This same handle also accepts the forward focus head, a stain remover and a tongue cleaner.
The soft bristles are trimmed to a blunted but focus-like tip to enable good interproximal penetration and good cleaning ability underneath wire splints.
Inspiration drawn from real life
Dr Erskine-Smith said the lingual wire splinting after orthodontics or for mobility is very common and very effective, but it is also very awkward to clean underneath such wires.
"I had an unfortunate experience with a young, post-orthodontic patient I had treated and on whom I had placed a lingual splint. He presented with alarming lingual gingivitis and had lost 2 mm of bone directly as a result of the plaque retention caused by the lingual splint and his inability, or lack of motivation, to clean under it properly. I decided then and there that I would make a brush to address this problem and to make it so easy anybody could do it.
"The words of the respected preventive dentist Kevin Gillings ("whatever is easier to do, our patients are more likely to do") have remained in my thinking ever since I met Kevin in the 1980s, so making a brush that made it easy and effective became my mission. Using our 3D printing facilities, we made and tested dozens of different angles, bristle lengths and head lengths and eventually, after a year or two driving my industrial design team crazy, we finally had something I could go to tooling with. Even the tool that molds the plastic head was a marvel of modern science and extremely complex.
"Unfortunately, virtually all common toothbrush making machines could not make the brush at this unusual U turn angle. Nor were the standard trimming machines able to cut the bristles to a point. So it took quite a bit of R&D to make it all happen. I'm pleased with the result now - we have shown it at ADA Brisbane, Euro Perio London and IDS Cologne and dentists and hygienists have immediately understood what it's for and how it can help.